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Vancouver Whitecaps Play to Draw with Montreal Impact in First Leg of Canadian Championship

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Vancouver Whitecaps traveled to Montreal Impact for the first leg of the Canadian Championship (Voyageurs Cup) Final on Wednesday night. Although not pretty, the 'Caps left Saputo Stadium with a very positive 2-2 result, setting themselves up nicely for the final leg in two weeks at BC Place.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

For the second week in a row, the Vancouver Whitecaps put in another mid-week stinker, in non-MLS action; at least for the first 60 minutes. While MLS fans understand that the depth of a squad is tested when a team is competing across multiple competitions, the Whitecaps really could not use that excuse for their match against Montreal Impact. It can be argued that Carl Robinson did not put forth a very offensive minded lineup with Kianz Froese and Russell Teibert starting on the wings, however, the lineup also included Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey, Matias Laba, and Pedro Morales. In addition, despite having a bye this week, the Impact were missing a few of their top players, including Piatti.

Like the Whitecaps’ fans watching the game, Carl Robinson was visibly frustrated by his squad’s inept play during the first half, as the team struggled to string together consecutive passes throughout. This was fully evidenced by having zero shots by halftime. The Whitecaps had only one scoring opportunity, with Darren Mattocks obtaining a half breakaway, only to fail in even getting a shot on net.

The second half started ominously with Christian Dean subbing in for an injured Diego Rodriguez (quad contusion….aka, a bruise). It got even worse, with Matias Laba falling awkwardly and being subbed off shortly thereafter. However, just prior to Laba’s substitution, the Whitecaps caught a break as a result of some very strong play from the young Froese, who fought off some strong defending by Donadel to slide a ball central to Mattocks, who then redirected the pass into the corner, giving the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute. As a fan of the polarizing Mattocks, I like to note his great acknowledgement in going over to Froese and emphasizing his role in the goal. While I am not the best lip-reader, it was clear that Mattocks was letting Froese know that the goal had very little to do with Mattocks and all to do with Froese’s hard work. A very positive sign that highlights some of Mattocks’ growth into a team player.

Maybe undeserving, due to the poor play, the Whitecaps quickly doubled their lead in the 71st minute, thanks to a perfectly placed free kick by captain Morales. If this were an MLS game he would certainly be up for goal of the week. Luckily for the Whitecaps that they scored that second goal as the Montreal Impact made the last 10 minutes interesting with Ciman hitting a blistering header into the net, off a perfectly placed corner kick, in the 82nd minute. The Impact quickly followed that up in the 84th minute, with a goal from Jackson. Despite the late onslaught by Montreal, the Whitecaps were able to hold their ground and end the game 2-2.

Despite the late two goals for the Impact, the Whitecaps need to be happy with the result. Although the performance was not the best, the two away goals should be seen as a positive and placing them in a good position for the second leg at home. Hopefully the Whitecaps can win their first Voyageurs Cup, after being runner-up in five of the last six seasons.