Impact defeat Whitecaps to win USL crown
Tony Donatelli, Joey Gjertsen and Roberto Brown scored in the first half as the Montreal Impact defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 to win the United Soccer League's First Division championship before a sellout crowd of 13,034 at Saputo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Impact won the two-game, total-goals series 6-3 on aggregate in the league's first all-Canadian soccer final. They claimed their third league title after wins in 1994 and 2004.
Montreal had won the first leg 3-2 in Vancouver last week.
Ansu Toure scored for Vancouver, which failed in a bid for a second championship in a row and a third in four years.
After losing captain Martin Nash to a red card 51 minutes into the first leg, the Whitecaps were reduced to 10 men again when central defender Shaun Pejic was sent off in the melée that preceded the opening goal on a penalty in the 29th minute.
Leonardo DiLorenzo slipped the ball into the Vancouver area and the ball came loose as the onrushing Gjertson tripped over goalkeeper Jay Nolly. Brown had a clean shot at the empty goal, but was brought down hard by Pejic. Referee Dave Gantar awarded the penalty.
Before it was taken, it appeared Pejic said something to Gantar, who flashed the red card. Ex-Whitecap Donatelli made no mistake on the shot.
'Caps strike back
Brown pushed a pass in on goal and Gjertsen got to it in time to lift a shot over Nolly in the 40th minute. The rout looked to be on as Peter Byers set up Brown for the third goal in the 42nd.
But the Whitecaps struck back two minutes later, as Marlon James crossed the ball to the right post,where Toure was waiting to head it inside the post.
The question for the second half was whether Montreal would crumble under the weight of a three-goal lead as they did in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals against Santos Laguna in Mexico last winter, where they blew a 4-1 aggregate lead and lost 5-4 in injury time.
This time, they controlled the ball and ran down the clock as their fans sang and waved flags in the seats.
Coach Teitur Thordarson took out two of his top players in James and Justin Moose, who was shown the yellow card in the 56th, early in the second half and then took out rookie of the year Marcus Haber in the 69th.
That's when Vancouver striker Charles Gbeke, the league scoring leader, and Montreal's Eduardo Sebrango, both went on.
The Impact went 6-0 in the USL-1 playoffs.
Vancouver beat Montreal in their first two meetings this year in the Nutrilite Canadian Championships, but the Impact came back to beat the Whitecaps in all three of their regular-season meetings plus the two playoff games.
It was the second time this year Vancouver has been denied a trophy while in Montreal. They were in attendance as the Impact were wiped out 6-1 by Toronto FC, which eliminated Vancouver from the Canadian Championship.
Montreal's attendance for the season was 279,118.