MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps left plenty on the table to play for in two weeks' time, fighting to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final on Wednesday night at Stade Saputo.
The tie means the series remains wide open going into the second leg, on May 29, at Vancouver’s BC Place, with a 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League spot at stake.
The encounter started slowly, with both teams creating very little in the way of offense. Fans had to wait until the 19th minute for the game’s first actual chance, when a long Hassoun Camara pass from the back reached Marco Di Vaio on the left. The Italian cut inside in front of two defenders and curled the ball to Brad Knighton’s left, but the ‘keeper saved comfortably.
The Whitecaps grew into the game more and more as it went on. Nigel Reo-Coker was a relentless influence from his right back position, all the more so given that Montreal’s dim pressing gave him ample time on the ball.
Vancouver nearly found an away goal in the 32nd minute, when Alain Rochat beat Collen Warner to the ball near the area. Evan Bush beat Rochat's fine shot away for a corner kick which gave Montreal more problems: They needed not one, but two last-gasp clearances.
The Impact showed more intent early in the second half, but the intensity quickly died down. Chances were again few and far between, and while Vancouver chose their moments to attack, they stretched Montreal well when they did so. Russell Teibert almost built on his two-goal weekend in the 64th minute, but his shot was well wide.
Martin Rennie’s side otherwise absorbed pressure well, leaving Montreal to pass the ball around harmlessly around the penalty area in the latter stages of the encounter. Jeb Brovsky almost did find a freak winning goal, however, when his 83rd minute early cross bounced on top of the net.
The Impact also had two penalty shouts waved off late in the second half as they pushed more men forward, even as Brovsky was forced off for a good chunk of the final minutes after taking a blow to the face in a coming together with Jordan Harvey, but the Whitecaps held on valiantly.
Vancouver and Montreal have one game of MLS action to get through before the decider in Vancouver in two weeks' time. The ‘Caps will host Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers on Saturday, while the Impact welcome the Philadelphia Union at Stade Saputo on May 25.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Patrice Bernier||Masterminded the Impact in possession, switching the field of play well and finding his teammates with ease, even if he and his team didn't find the penetration they wouldn've liked|
|2||Nigel Reo-Coker||A relentless runner and creator all over the field for the Whitecaps. Worked well with Teibert, who also had a solid showing|
|3||Hassoun Camara||Helped keep things comfortable in the back for the Impact and was superb at generating offense from his spot in defense|