It looked for most of the game that the Montreal Impact would look back at missed opportunities in the opening leg of the Amway Canadian Championships. But Justin Mapp scored on a perfectly placed shot to give the Impact a 1-1 draw heading into the second leg at Saputo Stadium.
The Impact thought they should have gotten two hand ball calls in the penalty area, but both went without a call. It loomed very large until Mapp’s goal in the 73rd minute.
“It was a slow start for us,” said Impact head coach Frank Klopas in a press release. “We got beat on another set piece, but we maintained after that. The second half we came out as a different team. We competed better and Justin Mapp scored a beautiful goal.”
“But for me, we have to talk about two clear hand balls. It was crystal clear and it’s embarrassing. With the importance of this final, at least make the players decide it, not the referee,” Klopas said.
The Impact, who are struggling in MLS play this season, are looking to repeat as Voyageurs Cup champions – the Canadian club team championship. The winner goes on to play in the CONCACAF Champions League that groups the best club teams in the Americas.
Nelson Rivas made his first start of the season at center back but could last only three minutes when, after making a play on the ball, could not continue. Wandrille Lefevre came in to replace Rivas.
“We were angry at the way we were playing and we knew we had to come out better in the second half,” said Lefevre.
“We came out with more energy, found that road goal and after the start we had, the result is good for us.”
The Impact also made a significant change at half time going from their 4-2-3-1 formation to a 4-4-2 with Jack McInerney coming on for midfielder Felipe. It seemed to give them more scoring chances and will be interesting to see if this change is used in league play or to start any games.
The second leg of the championship is next Wednesday at Stade Saputo where the Impact will try to win the championship for the first time on home field. The Impact have won the championship twice but never at home.
“We are not going to approach the game as we have an advantage after scoring the away goal,” said captain Patrice Bernier.
“We have one more game to play and it’s going to be a real final, a one off at our place. We are going to have to push and win it clearly at home.”
Before the next leg, the Impact host the New England Revolution on Saturday at 7 p.m.