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Yesterday in the Playoffs: Black Day for Canadian Soccer

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Greg Janicki of the Vancouver Whitecaps in competition with Kendall Jagdeosingh of the Puerto Rico Islanders. (Benjamin Massey/Eighty Six Forever)
Greg Janicki of the Vancouver Whitecaps in competition with Kendall Jagdeosingh of the Puerto Rico Islanders. (Benjamin Massey/Eighty Six Forever)

Carolina 2 [Rusin 72' Heinemann 89'] (2) - (1) 0 Montreal: Coming into the second leg of the USSF D2 semi-final, Montreal seemed to be in control. Their one-goal lead looked precarious, but they had bossed Carolina around in the first leg at Stade Saputo and seemed to be good value for at least a draw in North Carolina. Their defense had always been among the better in the league, and in recent playoff games their offense had been spectacularly assertive.

It did not turn out that way. Montreal kept up the pressure all game long, pounding thirteen shots towards Carolina's goal of which five had to be saved by goalkeeper Eric Reed, one of the heroes of Thursday's matchup. Matt Jordan got the start in goal for the Impact despite a nagging groin injury and he, too, looked strong, making six saves of his own. While Montreal kept up the pressure, had the majority of the possession, and picked up plenty of good opportunities off of corners and dangerously-placed free kicks, the Railhawks were playing Montreal very evenly. It would only take a little bit of bad luck for the game, and the series, to suddenly turn in Carolina's favour.

Their opportunity came in the seventy-second minute. A Daniel Paladini free kick off of a foul from Rudolphe Mayard was deflected around the Montreal area: a Floyd Franks shot was nimbly stopped by Matt Jordan but the rebound fell to Matt Watson, who after settling the ball put a perfect feed to a wide-open Brad Rusin, and the defender knocked the ball past an entirely out-of-the-play Jordan. Carolina had tied the series 1-1 on aggregate and seized momentum with both hands.

With the series tied and time running out, both teams pushed for a winner. Extra time seemed imminent until, just before stoppage time, Watson hit striker Tom Heinemann with a magnificent long ball that sent Heinemann in alone. Running by himself almost from half, Heinemann powered the ball into the top corner past Jordan and sent the announced crowd of 2,869 into a frenzy. The Impact protested the goal as offside, but to no avail.

With the end of the season looking them in the face, the Impact had some fight left and went all-out trying to pound the ball down Carolina's throat. With the referee on the verge of blowing his whistle, midfielder Marco Terminesi caught a magnificent pass alone in the Carolina area and beat Eric Reed for the seeming equalizer, only for the linesman's flag to go up. The contentious call infuriated the Impact, who surrounded referee Jose Carlos Rivero and seemed on the verge of physically assaulting the official. After the match, Marc Dos Santos came right out and said "the game ended unjustly because of bad decisions on the last two goals," but replays showed that Rivero and his crew made the right decisions.

Vancouver 0 (0) - (2) 2 Puerto Rico [Addlery 113' 120'] (a.e.t): Nope. Still not ready to talk about this.