MONTREAL – This was a serious comeback.
The Montreal Impact spectacularly overturned a 2-0 deficit with six goals of their own on Wednesday night against Toronto FC in the semifinal second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship. The 6-0 win (6-2 on aggregate) was their first ever against TFC in the competition, and they equaled the record number of goals scored in an ACC game (Montreal 1-6 Toronto, June 18, 2009) in the process.
Justin Mapp, Daniele Paponi, Marco Di Vaio (twice), Andrés Romero and Andrew Wenger all scored in an action-packed night for Montreal, who will face the Vancouver Whitecaps – who beat FC Edmonton in the other semifinal – in the first leg of the ACC final on May 15.
Yet surprisingly, it was Ryan Nelsen’s men who came out flying, in search for the goal that would kill the tie. The game was only one minute old when Robert Earnshaw came agonizingly close, his shot trickling onto the post to Evan Bush’s right. Earnshaw got involved again seven minutes later, when his cross from the left narrowly missed Andrew Wiedeman.
But from there, it was all Montreal. Mapp had arguably his best game in an Impact shirt and got a goal to show for it in the 24th minute. Running down the left, Romero went past Ryan Richter and crossed low. Reds goalkeeper Stefan Frei seemed to get a touch but the ball fell for Mapp, who slid it home with his stronger left foot.
Nine minutes later, the series was tied. A quick transition starting with Wandrille Lefèvre reached Mapp, who swiftly beat his marker. Frei stopped his right-footed drive, but Paponi squeezed the rebound in at the far post.
The young Italian promptly went off injured and was replaced by Di Vaio, who gave Montreal a two-goal lead on the night in 44th minute. Mapp – a catalyst once more – crossed from the right and the ball evaded everyone in the TFC box but Di Vaio, who coolly slotted it past Frei.
Nelsen made two changes at the break, but neither Jeremy Hall nor Luis Silva were able to break the Montreal block despite the increased pressure throughout the half. Typically deadly on the counter, Montreal found a fourth in the 61st minute. Di Vaio fought off Reggie Lambe’s challenge and released Romero, who rounded Frei for the finish.
Mapp completed his outstanding performance in the 90th minute, when he was again stoned by Frei only for the ball to conveniently fell for an unmarked Di Vaio for the fifth goal. The Italian also fed Wenger in stoppage time to complete the rout.
Both the Impact and TFC travel west this Saturday for MLS action: Montreal will face the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium, while Toronto visit Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and the Colorado Rapids.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Justin Mapp||A force from minute one to minute 90 with a goal, an assist and two hard shots that turned into goals off the rebound|
|2||Marco Di Vaio||Came on as a late first half sub for the injured Paponi and immediately made his presence felt. Ended the game with two goals and two assists|
|3||Andrés Romero||His technical skill and vision were on the display on the left wing, and he could be one of the pieces that helps Montreal evolve beyond a counterattacking team. Hit a nicely taken goal|