It's yet another Amway Canadian Championship final for the Vancouver Whitecaps, although, they'll be taking on a different opponent this time. While the 'Caps have gotten very good at failing against Toronto FC, they'll be taking on a very good club in the Montreal Impact, which thrashed the aforementioned Ontario team 6-0 to secure their chance at a title.
While the Whitecaps have had a disappointing season thus far, no one was feeling sad after their last match, a 3-1 decision over the LA Galaxy. You remember how that one played out; Canadian Russell Teibert scored twice, Darren Mattocks scored once, and the Whitecaps beat the Galaxy for the first time in MLS play.
Montreal has had a very solid season thus far, sitting 4th in the Eastern Conference with 20 points. While the Whitecaps and Impact haven't played in an MLS matchup since opening day last season, these two teams are no strangers to each other, especially at the Canadian Championship. It's been a popular stat this week, but it has to be mentioned that the Whitecaps haven't loss to Montreal in their last six Championship matches, and hold a slight edge overall with 3 wins, 2 losses and 3 draws.
RIDE THE MOMENTUM
A victory against the Galaxy is a rare moment for this franchise, so you have to think the players will be flying high. If Head Coach Martin Rennie decides to field a strong lineup, you would have to think guys like Teibert and Mattocks would be chomping at the bit to keep the mojo flowing. Really, you could say the same thing about the entire team, as they try to prove to the rest of the league that they aren't basement dwellers. Of course, a win tonight would mean nothing for MLS standings, but another win against a strong team in less than a week would definitely make a few people take notice.
START BRAD KNIGHTON
I'm a big fan of Joe Cannon, but given his age, he needs a break now and then. Brad Knighton looked shaky in first leg of the Edmonton series, but came back with a shutout in the second. He's played well enough to earn a start in the Championship, especially with the busy schedule lately. If Knighton does start, and if Knighton does well, I think you'd have to revisit giving him the starting reigns for the season. Cannon has played very well at times, but he has, in no way solidified himself as the number one guy. He gets the starts, but like most players on the squad, there are inconsistencies to his game. Healthy competition is never a bad thing, so give Knighton a few starts now to light a fire under both of their asses.
THE LINEUP BETTER BE STRONG
Remember when Rennie went through all that media scrutiny for resting his players against FC Dallas a few weeks ago? He did it because he wanted a strong lineup against FC Edmonton, and implied that winning the Canadian Championship was the most important thing for the club. Now, I'm hearing rumblings that Rennie will start a reserve heavy lineup against the Impact, which would officially twist my mind into a pretzel. Now, the lineup will already be missing some regulars, as Daigo Kobayashi, Kenny Miller and Camilo are all back in Vancouver dealing with injuries. However, I would hope Rennie would replace Kobayashi with Teibert (natch), and put someone like Corey Hertzog in for Camilo. I understand Rennie likes Erik Hurtado and Kekuta Manneh a lot, but barring a slew of injuries, the young duo should be used in substitution roles for this season. If the club truly cares about winning this damn Championship, then we had better not see anything less than the Whitecaps best.
A spot in the 2013-14 Champions League is on the line here, and the Vancouver Whitecaps cannot take that lightly. This is a winnable match, and could be one of those 'season turning points' we hear so much about. I've been hurt by the Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship before, but apparently I'm just like Rihanna, because I believe they'll change. Final thought? Whitecaps 2, Impact 1. God help me.