MONTREAL – Tick tock.
Montreal and Club América have until 8 pm ET Monday to notify CONCACAF of any changes to their roster ahead of Wednesday’s second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final, and the Impact want to add a goalkeeper.
CONCACAF announced Monday morning that they would not consider the Impact's appeal of the late yellow card that 'keeper Evan Bush was shown in the first leg of the final against Club América, a 1-1 draw last Wednesday at Estadio Azteca. It was Bush's second yellow since the start of the CCL semifinals, leading to his suspension for the second leg.
Article 6.25 of the CCL regulations does not allow appeals for referee decisions. The only way Montreal could have won an appeal, technical director Adam Braz said, was if Bush had been shown a card not intended for him.
Montreal are thus looking for a goalkeeper, and not just for a short-term, emergency loan.
“We want someone who will come and integrate the team,” Braz told reporters. “We’re not looking for just one game. We also have to look at what’s best for the team, collectively.”
Braz repeated that the club is considering every possible option. They could sign a free agent, bring in a player aged 24 or younger on loan, as per MLS loan rules, or even trade for an eligible ‘keeper. Montreal have one free roster spot.
“We have many options,” Braz said, declining to offer more details. “But we also have to take our time – although we don’t have that much time – to find the best solution to be ready for Wednesday night.”
Reports linked the Chicago Fire’s Sean Johnson with Montreal on Sunday, but ESPN FC's Jeffrey Carlisle dismissed them in the evening. On their current roster, Montreal have two options to replace the suspended Bush and the cup-tied Eric Kronberg.
John Smits, on loan from Edmonton, was Bush’s backup in Montreal’s last two CCL games. Maxime Crépeau, who has recovered from a shoulder injury, did not travel to Mexico with the Impact but did train with their USL PRO team, FC Montréal, last week. Crépeau, a Homegrown Player, took part in the Impact’s training sessions this weekend, taking shots normally. But he has yet to make his first-team debut.
“If [Crépeau] is the option we have, then we’ll have confidence in him to go in there,” Klopas said on Sunday. “You have to start sometime. If it’s the final to play, why not? If I could get a start in the game and I could play in a final in my hometown, in front of a sellout crowd, then I’d be looking forward to that.
“[Smits] is another guy that we brought in here for a reason,” Klopas continued. “If we need to put him in, then we have the confidence that we can put him in.”
On Sunday, Bush also addressed the yellow-card incident for the first time.
Still bitter about many of referee Hector Rodriguez’s decisions, including the failure to send off Osvaldo Martínez for tugging Dominic Oduro’s jersey as he broke through behind the América defense and Dilly Duka’s booking as he was being subbed off, Bush’s disbelief over being cautioned was as real on Sunday as it was when he raced past the mixed zone after the game last Wednesday.
“You can look at it and say, ‘Yeah, the goalkeeper kicked the ball at the player.’ In actuality, it wasn’t that at all,” Bush said. “The ball was in my hands, and if you see me after every goal I give up, I kick the ball towards midfield. Every single goal. The fact is that I had the ball in my hands, I kicked it towards midfield and he comes and blocks the ball. Then he hits me in the face. Those two things combined, I don’t see how you can say that I was in the wrong either time.”
Bush also brought up his semifinal yellow card, blasting the referee’s decision to book him for time-wasting in the 33rd minute of Montreal’s second leg at Costa Rican club Alajuelense.
“It didn’t make sense to me,” Bush said of that decision.
But he did get in the book, and he feels a bit of honesty at the Azteca may have cost him dearly.
“I told the referee at halftime: ‘Look, I know I'm on a yellow card. I want to play in the final. I'm not trying to waste time. So bear with me here because there's nothing that I’m going to do in this half, trying to get a yellow card,’" Bush said. "It was a regular game. If I wasn’t on a yellow card, then maybe I would have wasted more time in certain situations and taken the yellow card.
“But the referee knew the situation I was in and maybe, at the end of the day, it would have been better not saying anything to him. Because maybe, at that point, he realized that, ‘OK, he’s on a yellow card, any little thing that he does, I can book him.’ That’s just how it is in CONCACAF.”