Impact erase two goal deficit, earn draw against Whitecaps in Amway Canadian Championship

By Kelsey Patterson


MONTREAL _ Two late goals gave the Montreal Impact a fighting chance to defend their Canadian Championship title.

Montreal scored twice within a minute to earn a 2-2 draw against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final on Wednesday.

Because the Canadian Championship is a two-legged aggregate series, Vancouver has the advantage going into the second leg of the final with its two away goals. The return leg goes Aug. 26 at B.C. Place in Vancouver.

The winner will hoist the Voyageurs Cup and advance to the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League.

“We’ve given ourselves a chance,” said midfielder Justin Mapp, who made his first appearance for the Impact since dislocating his shoulder more than five months ago. “They got two away goals, so they did what they needed to do. It wasn’t the ideal result, but if we had folded, it would have been a real uphill battle.

“We gave ourselves a chance to get a result and we have every reason to think we can.”

Down 2-0, defender Laurent Ciman got the first goal back for Montreal in the 84th minute with a header off a Marco Donadel corner kick.

With the Saputo Stadium fans still buzzing, forward Anthony Jackson-Hamel, who came on as a substitute in the 69th minute, added a second for the home side in the 85th to erase Vancouver’s two-goal lead.

“We dropped a little too much after we scored,” said Whitecaps goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, who could do very little to stop Jackson-Hamel from scoring his first career goal for the Impact. “They put everything they had to find a goal and get back in the game. They had the energy in the end.

“If you just look at the result, that’s what we had to do. It’s not bad at all. We’re quite happy. It was too good to be true at 2-0.”

After an uneventful first half, Darren Mattocks scored for the Whitecaps in the 65th and Pedro Morales doubled the visitors’ lead in the 72nd.

Poor coverage by the Impact allowed Mattocks to slip in behind Montreal’s defenders, and the Jamaican striker deflected Kianz Froese’s low cross into the bottom left corner of Eric Kronberg’s net.

The Whitecaps doubled their lead in the 72nd. Morales tricked Kronberg on a free kick from a tight angle, slotting the ball between the ‘keeper and the post on the short side.

“It was a great shot,” said Kronberg. “We might have played it a bit more like a corner kick, putting a guy at the post. I’m pretty upset I didn’t get to it.”

The Whitecaps have never lifted the Voyageurs Cup, losing in the final on five occasions since the inaugural tournament in 2008. Montreal has won the Canadian Championship three times, including the last two years.

As is often the case in tournament matches, both teams kept several of their regular starters on the bench.

Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush and midfielders Calum Mallace and Andres Romero watched from the sidelines. Ignacio Piatti and defender Victor Cabrera did not dress.

Coach Carl Robinson made eight changes to the Whitecaps squad that beat Real Salt Lake 4-0 in Major League Soccer play last Saturday. David Ousted, Gershon Koffie, Octavio Rivero and Robert Earnshaw started the game on the bench.

The Impact started the game strong.

Midfielder Maxim Tissot, who played on the left wing, almost put the home side in front three minutes in, but his curled shot hit the post to Tornaghi’s left.

Tissot had another chance in the 13th, but the 23-year-old deflected a Donadel free kick well over the crossbar.

Montreal led 8-0 in shots at halftime. The shots were 19-4 at the final whistle.

Notes: Impact captain Patrice Bernier missed the game due to a suspension. ? Seven of Vancouver’s starters were 24 or younger.

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