Toronto FC take home Canadian Championship
With the win, Dwayne De Rosario and TFC earn a CONCACAF Champions League berth. (Getty)
MONTREAL — They said it couldn`t be done. It had been generally conceded that there was no chance that Toronto FC could win the Nutrilite Canadian Championship by defeating the Montreal Impact by four goals Thursday night.
But not only did TFC do it, they did it one better.
Chad Barrett nodded home a corner kick from Amado Guevara in the 82nd minute to put Toronto FC ahead 5-1 and Guevara scored the insurance goal eight minutes later to make the final score 6-1 at Stade Saputo and give the club its first trophy.
The feat was more remarkable because Toronto conceded the first goal of the match, on a penalty, but Dwayne De Rosario pulled the team back by scoring three goals. Guevara had two and goalkeeper Stefan Frei made some important saves when Montreal struck on the counterattack.
Toronto and Vancouver each won three of their four games in the three-team tournament but Toronto won on total goals scored. Toronto FC hoped change of expectations might bring a change of results. Going into a match needing to win by four goals can do wonders for lowering expectations, especially for a team that has become known for squandering chances.
The task became even more ominous when the Impact scored first on a penalty kick. But De Rosario scored twice in the first half and Toronto entered the second half needing three goals to win its first trophy.
The Major League Soccer club has been expected to win its Nutrilite Canadian Championship matches against the United Soccer Leagues clubs, the Impact and the Whitecaps, over the first two years of the competition.
But after losing to the Whitecaps 2-0 in Vancouver on June 2, TFC faced the daunting task of needing to win by four goals Thursday night against last year’s Canadian champions, the Impact, to take the championship and a CONCACAF Champions League berth.
Failure to win by four goals would give the championship to Vancouver. The Impact had been eliminated from this year’s competition with an 0-3 record entering Thursday’s final game.
TFC had won its two games at BMO Field May 5 and May 13 before the loss in Vancouver, each by a 1-0 scoreline, squandering numerous that should have made their goal totals higher in each game. Wasting the chances, came back to haunt the MLS team.
The TFC players were hoping that perhaps the low expectations and the fact that even many of their supporters felt it couldn’t be done would help them.
«We’ll go into the game with that mentality and anything we can do is a bonus.» Toronto midfielder Carl Robinson said earlier this week. «It’s about people sitting up and taking notice, and if we can do that, everyone will have to eat their words, sit back and say ‘well done, boys.'»
The Whitecaps were in Montréal for the game. They have a regular-season USL match on Saturday afternoon against the Impact at Stade Saputo.
«We need to put our priorities in the right place.» Impact coach Marc Dos Santos said before the game. «The game against Vancouver on Saturday is more important, so in terms of recuperation, we need to rest certain players on Thursday.
«Out of respect for the fans, the players on the field [Thursday] will need to play with honour and passion. We will be determined not to give anything to Toronto.»
Toronto came out using a 3-4-3 formation as they did at the start of their 2-1 victory against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday at BMO Field.
Jim Brennan, usually a left back, returned to the lineup after missing a game with a sprained ankle and started as a midfielder with Guevara, Robinson and Sam Cronin. Nick Garcia, Adrian Serioux and Nana Attakora-Gyan were the back line in front of Frei with Danny Dichio, Pablo Vitti and De Rosario up front.
Toronto did not start out with a sense of desperation although Dichio had a couple of chances, scissoring a ball just wide in the sixth minute and in the 16th minute, just failing to convert a header from in front of goal.
But the Impact struck first on a penalty by Tony Donatelli in the 24th minute after Nick Garcia fouled Peter Byers. Immediately after the penalty, De Rosario broke in but was stopped by Srdjan Djekanovic, who played with Toronto FC for part of the 2007 season. He started for Montreal as regular goalkeeper Matt Jordan rested.
De Rosario tied it in the 29th minute with a bicycle kick from about 10 yards after Djekanovic punched out Guevara`s corner.
In the 33rd minute Dichio headed wide from De Rosario’s cross, but after a cross from Brennan, De Rosario scored again in the 39th minute on a shot from just inside the penalty area to put Toronto ahead 2-1.
A minute later, Dichio put one over the bar.
Garcia picked up a yellow card in the 42nd minute when he protested a foul called on his tackle on Pierre-Rudolph Mayard.
Chad Barrett started the second half in place of Vitti as a forward on the left side.
De Rosario scored again in the 49th minute, shot from just inside the penalty area on the right side that Djekanovic partially blocked. Barrett made the pass. Toronto led 3-1 but still needed two more.
With Toronto continuing to press, Montreal nearly scored soon after on the counter with Frei forced to make a big save on Mayard.
In the 64th minute Toronto substituted Marco Velez for Serioux just before Frei came up with a save on Byers.
At the other end Barrett, who has had trouble finishing all season, was thwarted by Djekanovic on a close-in attempt.
But Toronto moved ahead 4-1 in the 69th minute on Guevara’s curling a ball over the wall on a direct free kick from about 20 yards.
Guevara’s cross led to Barrett’s goal that sealed the victory, then the Honduran finished off the contest to give the Voyageurs Cup a new home.
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLSnet.com