Vancouver Closer After Canadian Clash

In a feisty draw against the Montreal Impact, Vancouver got closer at replacing Toronto FC as the Canadian champion
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, May 16, 2013

Made in Canada - coverage of the Canadian MLS, NASL & USL Clubs, CSL, PCSL, Canadian Championship & Canada National Teams

For the last 4 years, one of Toronto FC’s sources of joy and pride was winning the Amway Canadian Championship.

But this year that streak came to end.

No matter who will lift the Voyageurs Cup on May 29, it will be the first time either team will win it in their MLS incarnation.

And after last night’s 0-0 draw, Vancouver has gotten closer to winning its first ever trophy.

Before the game, Vancouver hadn’t won on the road against MLS opposition and manager Martin Rennie reacted by trotting out a very defensive minded lineup.

Montreal and manager Marco Schällibaum, on the other hand, chose a lineup closer to their starting XI, unlike in the semi-final games against Toronto FC.

Rennie’s bet paid off as the players kept Montreal from scoring, in spite of dominating possession. The Whitecaps didn’t score either, but can go back to Vancouver knowing that they can determine the game themselves on their home field.

Keeping Marco Di Vaio and the Impact from scoring did, however, require a fair bit of bite, with the game ending with a combined 35 fouls and 4 yellow cards.

Going into the second leg of the final on May 29, the Vancouver Whitecaps are slight favourites in my book, given the home-field advantage. It will, however,  be interesting to see if either team is affected by Canada National Team call-ups for the game against Costa Rica in Edmonton the night before.

The preparation of each team will also be very different, as Vancouver’s last game will have been at home against Portland on May 18, while Montreal is playing the Union at home on the 25th, leaving only a few days to recover from a cross-country flight.

Another factor is Montreal’s game at Sporting KC only 3 days after, which will be a great battle for the top of the Eastern Conference.

Consider the CCL

Winning the trophy will add a minimum of 4 extra games in the CONCACAF Champions League for the club that wins, and that begs several questions: Which club would get the best result? Which club would prioritize the CCL? Which result would be better for the development of the Canadian Men’s National Team?

Playing in the CCL will give fringe players more playing time in either the CCL or MLS and this could benefit the young Canadians on the bench.

Judging by their lineups in the Canadian Championship and in MLS, Montreal seems to have more faith in their Canadian youngsters’ ability to perform right now than Vancouver.

Judging by MLS results as of late, Montreal is clearly the better team, while Vancouver has been struggling since last summer. And given the Caps’ struggles in MLS away games, it is hard to see them get a result on the road in CONCACAF.

The CCL puts an extra strain on the roster, which would probably be worse on the Whitecaps given their mediocre MLS season so far. Had it been horrendous, they could salvage part of the season by making a CCL run like Toronto FC, but they are still in the running for the playoffs.

On the other side, Impact President Joey Saputo comes off to me as a proud man, and he surely must be proud of the Impact making it to the quarterfinals of the tournament in February 2009. With a better team I can only imagine Saputo wanting to better that result at the tournament. 

Henrik LONNE

Nationality:
Denmark
College:
Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.
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