First off, let us all close our eyes and imagine the warm feeling that filled my soul, when that final whistle blew in the match between the two NASL teams, FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury, that final whistle that clearly screamed “Brittaney, your boys in blue are coming to town”. What a great feeling that was.
This time last week, the Impact boys made the trip to the wet and cold province that I call my home, Alberta. Dressed up in my Impact gear, flags in hand, and a long drive to freshen up my French chanting, I was ready for the Impact to take an easy win against my local NASL team. Oh, how I was so very wrong.
The decision from FC Edmonton Coach Collin Miller to play the young but talented midfielder Hanson Boakai in the starting XI turned out to be a great one. Early on in the match, Boakai displayed great aggression that forced him though Montreal’s defence, creating chances that were rejected by Montreal Goal Keeper Evan Bush.
In the 56th minute, Montreal Impact took the lead when Bernier’s free kick found an open Jack McInerney who did not hesitate to take the shot; 1-nil for Montreal. My victorious single man chanting and flag waving (that you could hear from the stream, by the way) became a hush as FC Edmonton’s Tomi Ameobi’s strike found its way past Bush. Just when I accepted the fact that Montreal would draw with a second division team, the worst happened. In the 90th minute Montreal’s rookie defender sent a backwards header towards Goal Keeper Evan Bush. FC Edmonton’s Michael Nonni didn’t let that opportunity pass him; goal with a final score, 2-1 FC Edmonton.
I had a quick chat with Montreal’s Head Coach Frank Klopas after the match “It wasn’t a good game. I wish I could have given you a better result”. Loved the chance to get to talk with the man, but are these the words we hear all too often? I shook hands with our boys as they packed up their gear and said my farewells to the boys who own my heart.
The thoughts flickering through the mind of Impact fans where those of doubt, as Montreal Impact prepared to step out on the pitch for the second leg in the Amway semi-finals. The flash back of the terrible away loss still flickered in our minds. With the looks of our starting line-up which included key players such as Justin Mapp, Felipe, and Brovsky, I was hoping for a much better result than last week.
The first half was surprisingly hopeful. Great plays from Mapp and the finishing strike from Jack McInerney gave the Impact a 2-0 lead going into the second half. An early header from Montreal’s Jeb Brovsky that found the back of the net gave me confidence, Montreal Impact 3-0. With victory held in front of us, I cracked myself a celebratory beer; that is when it all went so very wrong. A combination of increased pressure from FCE and the lapse of concentration for IMFC, allowed Jonke to penetrate our defense and diminish our hopes of a clean sheet, 3-1 FC Edmonton.
As my nerves began to unravel, my hands started to shake, and some quite vulgar language made its way out of my mouth, Edmonton makes it 3-2 with the away goal, which would send them to the Amway Championship final.
In the 87th minute came the first true controversial call in the match. What looked like a foul for Nyassi, was called as a free kick just outside the box. Debate this all you want, I feel that in this situation, it was the safest call.
The call you are all dying to read about… again. With 6 minutes of added time, a “hand ball” in the box changed the outcome of this match. Bernier takes the penalty kick, goal, the final 5-4 in aggregate and Montreal Impact advances to the ACC final for the second year in a row.
Does the drama stop there? No. Montreal Impact’s owner Joey Saputo made his way on the pitch, and seemed to have some harsh words for FC Edmonton’s Collin Miller. There are different thoughts in circulation about the actions shown by Saputo. Some are calling him a hero for standing up for his team, others calling him an embarrassment for losing his temper and displaying those actions towards Miller. Me? Remembering the repeated actions by our previous coach Marco Schallibaum, and complete rage from visiting coach of DC United Ben Olsen, I am wondering if possibly there is an increase of testosterone being pumped into the air at Saputo. Possibly, just in the water?
Montreal Impact takes on, once again, Toronto FC in the ACC finals. Montreal Impact, just scraping into the finals ahead of the NASL team FC Edmonton, is in for a real fight. With the poor display in midfield, and the complete mental breakdown in the second half by the Impact players, I do not give us much hope. Although, TFC key player Michael Bradley, will not be joining them in the ACC final as he is off with the USMNT on FIFA World Cup duty. Do you see Karl Ouimette starting in the ACC final? His display in preseason action left me with high hopes for the young defender, but with rookie mistakes being made in both legs of the semi, is he the right man for the job? This also leaves the question of the depth of our defence. What would your ideal starting XI be?
Catch the first leg of the ACC final, as Montreal Impact travel to Toronto on May 28.
(image courtesy of Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)