By KURTIS LARSON
Vancouver's dream of becoming the third different club in three years to hoist the Nutrilite Canadian Cup came to an end Wednesday night at Saputo Stadium drawing Montreal in the tournament's fifth game. A surprisingly inspired Impact side came from a goal down in the second half to level the score at 1-1 and send Toronto FC to their second consecutive CONCACAF tournament.
Vancouver's Ansu Toure scored what would have set up an intriguing final match between TFC and the Whitecaps in the 50th minute after receiving a re-directed ball from the top of the box, but the Impact battled back to level thirty minutes from time when a Philippe Billy half volley beat Jay Nolly to the bottom right corner.
Needing six points from their last two cup games, the Whitecaps drew with the Impact for the third consecutive time this year.
"We had an opportunity to finish this off and we had a lead and were playing very well," Caps' coach Teitur Thordarson said shaking his head. "I was unhappy with giving up that goal. It was a mistake because we didn't cover."
"The match was very important for Vancouver so we wanted to ensure fair play," said Montreal coach Marc Dos Santos, whose team was criticized last year for playing a reserve side on the final day of the tournament. "We experienced a difficult first half, but we came back stronger after the half."
A game controlled in large part by the visitors, Montreal did employ time wasting tactics after equalizing that displayed the intensity of the rivalry between the two Canadian teams. Montreal stand-in keeper Srdjan Djekanovic was issued a caution in the 73rd minute for time wasting and the Impact were happy with holding the ball at the corner flag as the game inched closer to full time.
"The team's goal was not to lose at home (again) in front of our fans," goal scorer Philipe Billy said following the game. "There's currently a good spirit within the team."
The draw sends TFC into the CONCACAF preliminary round to face Motagua of Honduras in a home and away series at the end of July. The winner of that two-leg series will be drawn into group A with MLS side Real Salt Lake and Panama's Arabe Unido along with either Cruz Azul or San Francisco (Panama).
Edmonton FC - Announced a friendly against the Montreal Impact to be played in Edmonton on June 16. Edmonton will also face various PDL sides throughout the summer before ending with a friendly against Miami FC in late August. Earlier in the week Edmonton released a provisional roster of 21 players that will train together throughout the summer months in preparation for entry into USSF-2 next year.
Vancouver Whitecaps - Bowed out of the the Canadian Cup after playing to a 1-1 draw in Montreal. They now head to Rochester for the second game of a three-game trip through the east. The Caps will look to make it two straight over the Rhinos after defeating Rochester 2-0 last week in B.C. Vancouver then travel to BMO Field for a meaningless sixth and final Canadian Cup match against TFC. It's rumored that Toronto has petitioned the NCAA to allow their academy players to compete on the tournament's final day. Vancouver currently hold top spot in the NASL Conference with Montreal and Crystal Palace Baltimore just one and two points back.
Montreal Impact - Drew Italian side Fiorentina 1-1 last Sunday before playing to a scrappy 1-1 draw at home against Vancouver in Canadian Cup action. They play host to Carolina this Sunday before hosting Italian giants AC Milan at Montreal's Olympic Stadium Wednesday. The Impact remain just a point back in the NASL Conference heading into Sunday's game with the RailHawks.
Toronto FC - Crowned Canadian champions Wednesday and are in preparation to head west once again for a date with the surging San Jose Earthquakes. TFC had success in San Jose last year stealing a full three points on the road but this is a very different Quakes side that is coming off a shocking 1-0 win in Seattle. A win for TFC will see them jump above New York for second place in the east while a win for San Jose will see them solidify their name at the top of the west. TFC return to BMO next Wednesday for a final Canadian Cup match against Vancouver before facing the Kansas City Wizards next weekend.
National Team News
The Canadian national team will look to be more competitive with Venezuela Saturday in Merida. Coming off a 5-0 thrashing against Argentina, the Canadians should have an easier time against a team that finished eighth out of 10 teams during South American qualifying. However, as in Argentina, Canada will be without six to eight regular starters meaning a draw in Venezuela would suit head coach Stephen Hart just fine.
During the Argentina broadcast the Canadian Soccer Association announced that Canada will take on Peru at BMO Field on Sept. 4. Peru finished last among South American teams during this World Cup cycle. The home game may allow as many as four Toronto FC players to take part in the game with Dwayne De Rosario, Julian De Guzman, Nana Attakora and Adrian Cann all receiving recent call-ups over the last year.
Finally, new world rankings place Canada fifth among CONCACAF nations and 63rd in the world. A big gap has opened between fourth and fifth with Canada sitting on 516 points and Costa Rica with 710 points. Here's how the CONCACAF rankings break down: USA (957), Mexico (895), Honduras (734), Costa Rica (710), Canada (516), El Salvador (452), Panama (434), Jamaica (399), Haiti (362), T&T (353).