Match Report: Montreal Impact v Vancouver Whitecaps (USL)
It was always going to be an uphill task, but Shaun Pejic’s controversial sending off after 29 minutes left Vanouver Whitecaps with an absolute mountain to climb in their quest to land back to back USL Championships.
Reduced to ten men for the second successive match, the Caps couldn’t stage the comeback of all comebacks and eventually went down 3-1 on the day and 6-3 on aggregate, as Montreal Impact claimed their 2nd USL Championship.
After a pretty uneventful start, in which Vancouver had the better possession but Montreal the better chances, the big turning point came as the half hour mark approached.
A brilliant through ball from Montreal’s Leonardo Di Lorenzo split the Whitecaps defence and with Tony Donatelli bearing down on goal, Caps goalie Jay Nolly seemed to bring him down for a penalty. The ref waved play on, the ball broke to Roberto Brown and with a man who goes down easier than a cheap junkie hooker, it was no surprise when he crashed to the ground under Pejic’s challenge and a penalty was awarded.
Little for the Caps faithful to complain about re the penalty but the subsequent sending off of Pejic was truely shocking and bewildering – and costly.
Ex Cap Donatelli converted from the spot and further quick goals from Joey Gjertsen on 40 minutes and wanker Brown, two minutes later, killed the match off as a competitive contest.
Ansu Toure pulled one back just before half time with a nice header, but there was to be no miracle comeback in Montreal and Vancouver had to let their Championship reign end.
They may still be Canada’s shame, but Montreal deserved their Championship victory. They were clearly the better team over the two legs and looked dangerous throughout, whereas Vancouver seemed to just run out of steam after a draining season. The Impact were the class of the playoffs, recording six straight wins and that’s why they are now 2009 USL Champions.
As for Vancouver, I’m proud of the guys. If you’d told us they’d be battling it out for the Championship back in July we’d have thought you were mad. They just fell short at the final hurdle and playing most of the 180 minutes with ten men was too much for them to overcome.
The semi final second leg match in Portland was one of the best games I’ve ever attended and the emotions some of the best experienced. We have the memories, just not the silverware.
With one more season to play before the MLS, next season is most likely to be a building process on the way to the “big league”. With players fighting for a place in the MLS Whitecaps, who knows where that motivation will take them.
We only have around 6 months to wait to find out!
FINAL SCORE: Montreal Impact 3 – 1 Vancouver Whitecaps (Montreal win 6-3 on aggregate)