Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2:1 Impact Montréal FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC have taken a 2-1 series lead with a home win in the 2017 Canadian Championship semi-finals opening leg. The Whitecaps scored twice in the first half before Impact Montréal FC cut the series lead in the second half.
Vancouver are now undefeated across 11 consecutive home matches in the Canadian Championship since 2011 (seven wins and four losses). Both sides now travel east to play at Stade Saputo in the return leg on Tuesday 30 May.
Vancouver opened in the 13th minute from a Brek Shea cross from the right side. Nicolas Mezquida smartly stepped over the low cross, letting the ball through to Alphonso Davies who fired it into the back of the net. At just 16 years old, Davies became the youngest goalscorer in the history of the Canadian Championship.
In the 33rd minute, Vancouver doubled their lead after some nice work by Davies heading to the edge of the box. Davies was stopped by Montréal midfielder Hernan Bernardello, but the loose ball was quickly picked up and fired on goal by Mezquida for the 2-0 lead.
In the 62nd minute, Montréal cut the lead in half on the Choinière goal. Daniel Lovitz played the ball forward and Anthony Jackson-Hamel flicked it forward with a header; Choinière then smashed it into the back of the net.
In the 68th minute, Montréal nearly equalised on a Chris Duvall shot that hit the post. Then in the 73rd minute, a Bernier penalty attempt was saved by the Whitecaps goalkeeper Spencer Richey. Bernier was close again in the final minute, but his shot at the back post was saved by Richey on the line.
As the only all-Canada competition that leads to the international stage, including the CONCACAF Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup, the Canadian Championship is viewed as a prestigious event unparalleled in Canada.
New Canadian Content rules introduced by Canada Soccer in 2017 include the requirement that a minimum of three Canadians are in the starting lineup for all Canadian Championship matches which will result in more Canadian players taking the pitch than in any previous editions of the competition’s 10-year history.
In all, 14 Canadians dressed for the match. Home side Vancouver Whitecaps FC started Marcel de Jong, Ben McKendry, Alphonso Davies, and Russell Teibert while Marco Bustos featured as a substitute. Gloire Amanda, Matthew Baldisimo, Sean Melvin, and David Norman dressed but did not feature. Impact Montréal FC, meanwhile, started Maxime Crépeau, Ballou Tabla, and David Choinière. Patrice Bernier, Anthony Jackson-Hamel, and Wandrille Lefèvre all featured as substitutes while Shamit Shome dressed but did not feature.
The Battle of the North
“We’re calling this competition The Battle of the North because it really is the pinnacle of Canadian club soccer, and the only competition that gives Canadian professional clubs an opportunity to advance to the international stage,” said Peter Montopoli, General Secretary for Canada Soccer. “Canadian clubs have come close to securing a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup in the past, including the Montréal Impact in 2015. We are confident we’ll see some world-class soccer in each of these upcoming Canadian Championship matches.”
The Path to the FIFA Club World Cup
The path to the FIFA Club World Cup started with the Qualifying Round, with Ottawa Fury FC now joining Canada’s three MLS teams for home and away Semi-final series. The home and away Final round will culminate with the final match on 27 June where the winner will be crowned 2017 Canadian Champion and raise the Voyageurs Cup. A special one-match Battle of the North playoff between the 2016 Canadian Championships winners Toronto FC and the 2017 winners will be played on 9 August in Toronto to determine who will advance, unless Toronto FC repeats as Canadian winners.
The winners of the Battle of the North will have earned its spot to compete in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the region’s most prestigious club tournament, that qualifies its champion directly to the FIFA Club World Cup.
One of the most distinguished club level trophies in soccer, the FIFA Club World Cup pits the winners of CONCACAF Champions League against the winners of the five other continental championships: Asia’s AFC Champions League, Africa’s CAF Champions League, South America’s Copa Libertadores, Oceania’s OFC Champions League, and Europe’s UEFA Champions League. The competition also features the host nation’s national champions.
Canada Soccer outlines return to soccer guidelines. The return to soccer guidelines provide member organizations with a five-step process, including a checklist of weighted questions known as the Return to Soccer Assessment Tool.