MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact’s Amway Canadian Championship run ended at the semifinal stage on Wednesday night with a 0-0 draw (2-4 on aggregate) in the return leg against Toronto FC. The game was played in front of 18,964 fans, the biggest Stade Saputo crowd in the history of the competition.
With the win, Toronto FC progresses to the Amway Canadian Championship final against either Vancouver Whitecaps FC or Ottawa Fury FC, who played the second leg of their own semifinal late on Wednesday night. The winner of the tournament final will lift the Voyageurs Cup and represent Canada in the 2017-18 CONCACAF Champions League.
“Credit to Toronto FC, who came here and got the result that they needed,” said head coach Mauro Biello. “The first game in Toronto was a disappointing result, but if we had found that first goal tonight, it could have been different with the momentum swinging. In the end, they were able to close down the game.”
Compact TFC defense stymies insistent Impact
With a two-goal advantage, Toronto FC adopted a conservative approach that bore fruit and slowed the Impact down early on. Montreal grew into the game as the first half progressed and notably won three straight corner kicks, five minutes from halftime. On the third attempt, Michael Salazar found a good chance, but he fluffed his shot when his foot caught Steven Beitashour’s as he struck the ball.
“The result in the first leg was hard to overcome,” said Michael Salazar. “We pushed and pushed looking for that first goal. Obviously, playing down a man is always tough. Everybody gave it their all. I feel we could have done something if we had gotten that first goal.”
Salazar was at it again after halftime. After a short cutback from Lucas Ontivero, Salazar’s shot from outside the box just missed the frame. TFC then got forward and produced a great chance in the 54th minute, but Wandrille Lefèvre managed to clear off the line.
The Impact went down to 10 men in the 60th minute when referee Silviu Petrescu sent off Lucas Ontivero for a behind-the-play foul on Will Johnson. Montreal still poured forward in a search for the coveted first goal. In the 73rd minute, Dominic Oduro fed Cameron Porter, who played his first game in Montreal since his memorable goal against Pachuca. Porter turned and shot, but goalkeeper Clint Irwin made the save.
“Toronto defended well throughout and played quickly on the counter,” said Ambroise Oyongo. “They stayed compact and countered all the way. In the end, it finished 0-0 and they are through, we can only wish them good luck. We need to build on that clean sheet, even though we are disappointed to be out.”
In the 79th minute, forward Didier Drogba, who was lively all game long, nearly re-created the play for Montreal’s first goal in the return leg in Toronto. After he chested the ball down on the right flank, Drogba crossed for Salazar, but the ball narrowly missed his extended foot.
Despite getting knocked out, the Impact can be pleased with another Academy product making his first-team debut. 19-year-old David Choinière, who has scored a goal and added an assist this season in USL play, subbed on in the 87th minute.
The Impact will return to MLS play on Saturday, June 18, in Columbus against the Crew SC at 7:30pm EDT (TVA Sports, 98,5fm & TSN Radio 690). The next home game will be played on the following Saturday, June 25, at 7:30pm as the Impact will host Sporting Kansas City (TVA Sports, 98,5fm & TSN Radio 690) at Stade Saputo. Excellent individual tickets for that game are still available on impactmontreal.com.
MTL – GK-Eric Kronberg; D-Ambroise Oyongo (David Choinière* 87’), Victor Cabrera, Wandrille Lefèvre, Hassoun Camara; M-Eric Alexander, Kyle Bekker (Cameron Porter 67’), Lucas Ontivero, Harry Shipp (Dominic Oduro 57’); F-Michael Salazar, Didier Drogba
Subs not used – GK-Evan Bush; D-Maxim Tissot, Kyle Fisher; M-Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé
*FC Montreal player
TOR – GK-Clint Irwin; D-Ashtone Morgan, Eriq Zavaleta, Drew Moor, Steven Beitashour; M-Benoit Cheyrou, Daniel Lovitz, Jonathan Osorio, Will Johnson (Justin Morrow 80’), Mo Babouli (Nick Hagglund 68’); F-Jordan Hamilton (Giovinco 74’)
Subs not used – GK-Alex Bono; D-Josh Williams; M- Jay Chapman
TOR – Zavaleta 45’
MTL – Drogba 50’
MTL – Oduro 88’
MTL – Ontivero 60’