Toronto FC, CF Montreal, Pacific capture semifinal spots in Canadian Championship

Toronto FC, CF Montreal and Pacific FC have claimed the remaining semifinal spots in the Canadian Championship.

Montreal to face Canadian Premier League side Forge FC

Toronto FC’s Richie Laryea, left, fights for possession of the ball against York United’s Max Ferrari during first half 2021 Canadian Championship quarterfinal soccer action in Toronto on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press)

Goals by Jonathan Osorio, Ifunanyachi Achara, Yeferson Soteldo and Noble Okello gave Toronto FC a convincing 4-0 win over York United FC in Canadian Championship quarterfinal play Wednesday.

Fielding arguably its strongest available team, Toronto put the Canadian Premier League side under pressure early before a sparse crowd of 3,651 on a very wet, windy evening at BMO Field. York spent much of the game on the back foot and trailed 2-0 after a first half that saw it outshot 10-2 (6-1 in shots on target).

The MLS side went ahead in the 34th minute thanks to the three Canadians in its starting 11. Richie Laryea and Jacob Shaffelburg combined down the left flank before Shaffelburg's cross found a wide-open Osorio between the York centre backs. His header beat an exposed York 'keeper Nathan Ingham.

Osorio, playing in his franchise-leading 282nd game, has now scored against 24 different teams in all competitions for Toronto.

Seven minutes later, Laryea and Shaffelburg played providers again after a York turnover. This time Shaffelburg's low curling cross found Achara as he broke through the centre backs and the Nigerian-born forward poked the ball past Ingham.

Soteldo scored from the penalty spot in the 84th minute after York captain Roger Thompson took down 17-year-old substitute Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty in front of the south stand. Okello, put in alone by Michael Bradley, made it 4-0 in the 89th minute.

It was the first clean sheet for Toronto since a 2-0 MLS win over Columbus on May 12. TFC has given up an MLS-worst 51 goals this season.

Toronto advances to host Pacific FC. 

Hamilton's Forge FC was the first team to reach the semifinals, defeating Winnipeg's Valour FC 2-1 on Sept. 15. The CPL champion will host CF Montreal. 

Montreal is the defending champion, having beaten Toronto via penalty shootout in the tournament final in 2019. The 2020 tournament was essentially shelved by the pandemic although Toronto and Forge are slated to meet later this year for bragging rights and the trophy in a one-off final.

CF Montreal books trip to semifinal

Matko Miljevic and Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla, with two goals, scored for 2019 champions CF Montreal.

Cory Bent was the lone player on the scoresheet for host Halifax.

While many expected the home side to sit back and defend, Halifax was not so complacent. It pressed Montreal and enjoyed a significant amount of possession in the opposing half.

CF Montreal will advance to the semifinals after defeating HFX Wanderers 3-1 on Wednesday. (Tim Krochak/The Canadian Press)

At the 24th minute, debutant Miljevic found himself all alone in front of the Halifax net but lost control of the ball before he could get a shot off. Only three minutes later—against the run of play— Bent punished Montreal's lack of finish when he hit an absolute screamer into the top left corner.

Montreal then turned up the heat and—in the 35th minute—Miljevic made up for his earlier blunder up by smashing the ball into the top of the net. A scampering run by Zorhan Bassong followed by a clever ball to Miljevic's foot set up the equalizer.

Montreal sensing the momentum shift, continued its pressing and looked to take its first lead of the game at the 41-minute mark, but Miljevic rattled a shot from outside the box off the post.

The defending champions picked up where they left off in the second half with substitute Lassi Lappalainen forcing an excellent save from Wanderers goalkeeper Kieran Baskett.

As Montreal continued to press and find the go-ahead goal, Halifax seemed more than content sitting back and shutting the door. There was eventually a breakthrough as CF Montreal captain Samuel Piette's shot grazed the side of the post.

As the game wound on, Halifax started to come out of its defensive set. That ended up costing the Wanderers as Tabla fired a shot into the top corner from a Zachary Brault-Guillard cross just as regular time expired.

Tabla then put the game out of reach as he slotted in his second two minutes later.

Pacific FC drops Cavalry

Having dispatched one Major League Soccer club in the Canadian championship, Pacific FC must do that again to continue its march to a title.

Pacific blanked Canadian Premier League counterpart Cavalry FC 1-0 in Wednesday's quarterfinal. 

Pacific FC's Kadin Chung, left, and Cavalry FC's Jose Escalante chase the ball during first half soccer action in the Canadian Championship quarterfinal in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Pacific ousted the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-3 in the preliminary round to advance to the quarters. Terran Campbell, who scored in that win over the MLS club, struck again Wednesday for the Tridents

Wednesday's matchup on clear, crisp night at Calgary's ATCO Field pitted the CPL's leading clubs against each other. Pacific (10-6-3) tops the table ahead of Cavalry (9-5-4).

Calgary midfielder David Norman prevented a second Pacific goal with a savvy save in the 87th minute.

With 'keeper Marco Carducci tangled up with Victor Blasco, the latter got a shot away on net that Norman headed out of danger.

The visitors led 1-0 in the 33rd minute on Campbell's spinning left-foot chip.

When Cavalry defender Mason Trafford's header didn't clear a free kick, Abdoulaye Samake set up Campbell with a header from the side of the box.

Pacific goalkeeper Callum Irving produced his eighth clean sheet of the season.

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