The Montreal Impact have officially stepped off of cloud nine.
Going into the second leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal against last-place MLS colleagues Toronto FC, Montreal looked in a very good position, not having conceded during the home first leg and coming off a brilliant 2-0 win away at Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City.
What took the field, though, was an uninspired Impact team which failed to capitalize on a 73-minute 10-man advantage and, most of all, looked like its mind was still in Kansas.
“We had a good week and I think that, as much as we told ourselves that we were going to stay level-headed, we came into the match and maybe took some things for granted at the beginning,” right back Jeb Brovsky told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “Unfortunately, we won’t get a second chance in this tournament this year, but we’re looking forward to Saturday’s game [against the LA Galaxy] and we’re going to clean things up.”
The red card shown to TFC’s Richard Eckersley in the 17th minute should have signaled the beginning of a lengthy possession-oriented spell for Montreal, but the opposite happened: The Impact looked nervous and desperately unable to string passes together. They even had to rely on goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts late on to remain in the game.
“We owe Donovan a big one,” Brovsky admitted.
Looking back, Brovsky feels he and his counterpart at left back, Tyson Wahl, could have pushed up more and delivered better crosses for teammates to get on the end of to unlock TFC’s backline, which was excellent on the night.
“We were that one pass away or that good chance away of slipping through.” Brovsky said. “But even with 10 men, some teams are hard to break down and that’s something we’ll have to learn to do down the road.”
The Impact will now return home to face the Galaxy with a cup elimination in the back of their minds, but, according to midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic, maybe this was a lesson the team needed to learn.
“We feel bad because we wanted to win this trophy, which would have gotten us into the Champions League the following year,” Ubiparipovic told MLSsoccer.com. “This is a really hard lesson for us to learn, but maybe it's a good lesson.”