Vancouver 2, Montreal 1 | 2017 Canadian Championship Match Recap
VANCOUVER, B.C. – In what was truly a game of two halves, the Vancouver Whitecaps sweated out a 2-1 home win against the Montreal Impact in the first leg of their Canadian Championship semifinal series on Tuesday night.
The victory puts VWFC in pole position ahead of next week's second leg out east. But Montreal grabbed a potentially crucial away goal and were dominant in the second half, denied a road draw by Whitecaps goalkeeper Spencer Richey’s penalty-kick save on Patrice Bernier.
A 13th-minute goal from wunderkind Alphonso Davies set the Whitecaps on their way, part of a dazzling first-half display from the 16-year-old. Davies’ trickery in the penalty box bamboozled the Impact defense 20 minutes later, allowing the ball to break to Nicolas Mezquida to drill home the second.
Montreal came out firing for the second half, and were rewarded in the 61st minute when David Choiniere lashed a cool finish into the top corner. But the Impact were left to rue Chris Duvall crashing an effort off the post and Richey saving Bernier's 73rd-minute penalty.
- 13' – VAN – Alphonso Davies
- 33' – VAN – Nicolas Mezquida
- 61' – MTL – David Choinière
- FLEXIBLE FORMATIONS: It was a completely different starting 11 for Vancouver than what they’ve lined up the last five MLS matches. They even had to contend with a different shape, with Carl Robinson lining his team up in a 3-4-2-1 formation rather than his customary 4-2-3-1. So many changes can be hard for a team to get some chemistry, but it didn't show. Robinson hasn't been afraid to mix things up this season, playing to the strengths of the team he selects, and it's working well.
- AWAY GOALS COUNT: Montreal were a much different beast in the second half after regrouping at halftime. A switch to three up top for the restart helped them press Vancouver hard, and Choiniere's away goal could be crucial. Vancouver head to Montreal next week with a narrow advantage, but they'll feel confident they can score one or more away goals of their own.
- MOVING UP THE PECKING ORDER: This may be his first year with a MLS contract, but Richey already looks to have established himself as the No. 2 ‘keeper in Vancouver. After playing in the league home game vs. Toronto during David Ousted's suspension, Richey made his second start of the season against Montreal, saving Bernier's penalty and producing a stoppage-time reflex save in what could be the defining moments of the series.
- VAN: Saturday, May 27 – vs. D.C. United (7 pm ET | TSN1/3/4/5 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US)
- MTL: Tuesday, May 30 – vs. Vancouver, Canadian Championship (TBD | TSN network in Canada)