Vancouver, Canada — With the air filled with smoke from the west coast fires, BC Place seemed as though it was set to hold something more extreme than a typical soccer mach. While the smoke created a mystical hue in the air, it seemed as though a monster truck rally would’ve been more fitting. Some form of WWE event, maybe a Metallica concert. All would’ve been more appropriate for the situation than “the beautiful game.”
Looking back after the full time whistle, maybe we were treated to a little bit of all of the above. Goals, own goals, red cards, fights, a Fredy Montero appearance and a Samuel Piette goal, what a spectacle.
Montreal Impact manager Thierry Henry set up a 4-2-3-1 for the second consecutive match, with the only change being Orji Okonkwo replacing Lassi Lappalainen on the right. Meanwhile, there were no changes for Marc Dos Santos and the Vancouver Whitecaps, sticking with the same 4-3-1-2 as he put out in last week’s win over Toronto.
It didn’t take long to open the scoring; just eight minutes to be exact. A strong effort by Michael Baldisimo won the ball back for Vancouver in the midfield, then the ball fell to David Milinkovic’s feet. The Englishman put through a perfectly weighted ball for the youngster Theo Bair who grabbed his first of the season from a tight angle. Milinkovic had to be Vancouver’s player of the game, and he set about this right off the get go.
No sooner than Vancouver took the lead was it that Montreal pulled even, catching Ali Adnan pressed too high, the Impact struck fast and hard on the counter attack. Quioto’s attempt struck the far post, however Okonkwo was able to bury the rebound from close range.
Sitting at 1-1, the game seemed to slow down for the rest of the first half, until a poor challenge on Romell Quioto by Thomas Hasal sent Saphir Taïder to the spot. His smooth finish into the opposite corner gave the Impact a deserved lead at the break.
Twenty minutes of pandemonium
Coming out of the break, the game still had the sense of being a bit chippy and tempers were starting to flare. Piette’s first career MLS goal in 79 games had just lit the fuse on what was about to come. Owusu and Erik Godoy both got skinned down the right wing by Okonkwo who laid the ball through to Taïder, whose low cross connected with Piette at the edge of the six yard box.
Minutes later, a visibly frustrated Lucas Cavallini made contact with a diving Clement Diop’s head, picking up his second yellow of the match. Some pushing and shoving from both sides was all that came from that, apart from Vancouver being down a man, their DP striker, in a game they’re losing.
A wave of substitutes from Dos Santos saw four changes at once in the 55th minute, with the likes of Cristian Dajome, Cristian, Jake Nerwinski and Montero — yes, a Fredy Montero sighting — being brought on. Adnan wasn’t thrilled about being subbed off, and immediately headed for the locker room and coming back 20 minutes later showered and in his street clothes.
Quioto put what seemed like the final nail in the coffin for Vancouver, tucking home Montreal’s fourth unanswered goal in the 60th minute. Borderline shambolic defending allowed Quioto to get on the end of Piette’s cross to walk around Hasal and bury much hope of a comeback
Despite a Rudy Camacho own goal, it wasn’t enough to will the Whitecaps back into this one. Other notable points included a straight red for Emanuel Maciel after a studs up challenge into the back of Dajome and Zachary Brault-Guillard clearing a Russel Teibert chance off the line in the dying stages. It wasn’t pretty, really by any time, but Montreal were clinical. There’s no denying that.
These two sides will meet again on Wednesday at BC Place to close out this phase of play before team’s head south of the 49th parallel next week. If Montreal win and score a pair of goals, they will win the round robin tournament and play the winner of the Canadian Premier League tournament in the Voyageurs cup final.