Montréal have advanced to the final round of the Canadian Championship for the fourth time in five seasons. Impact Montréal FC won their two-leg 2017 semi-final series 5:4, reversing last week’s 1:2 away loss with a home 4:2 win at Stade Saputo on 30 May.
The three-time Canadian champions will face the winner of the Toronto-Ottawa semi-final series which concludes on 31 May at BMO Field in Toronto. Montréal were recently champions in 2013 and 2014, then runners up in 2015. All matches in the 2017 semi-finals as well as the final round are broadcast live on TSN, the official broadcaster for the 2017 Canadian Championship.
Inside the first 20 minutes, Canadian Anthony Jackson-Hamel was fed a cutting pass into the box and, as he made his move past goalkeeper Spencer Richey, was taken down. On the ensuing penalty kick, Ignacio Piatti made no mistake to equalise the series 2:2.
Less than 10 minutes later, Piatti was taken down in the box after a smart, short free kick by Laurent Ciman. From the ensuing penalty, Piatti scored again, thus giving his side a 3:2 lead in the series.
Another 10 minutes later, Montréal added to their lead with the goal by Swiss debutant Blerim Džemaili. From the play down the left wing between Piatti and Ambroise Oyongo, a pinball sequence off a pair of Vancouver defenders moved the ball into the fortunate path of Džemaili’s right foot from inside the box.
Vancouver got one back shortly before the hour mark on a goal by substitute Alphonso Davies, but the Canadian duo of Patrice Bernier and Jackson-Hamel quickly restored the Montréal lead just two minutes later. Marco Donadel fed Bernier into the box who chipped his cross off the head of Tim Parker and into the path of Jackson-Hamel. From his chest, Jackson-Hamel quickly volleyed his shot into the back of the net for the 5:3 Montréal series lead.
Vancouver drew one more back in the 77th minute, but it was not enough. On the Cristian Techera cross, centre forward Kyle Greig headed the ball past an outstretched Crépeau from inside the box.
As the only all-Canada competition that leads to the international stage, including the CONCACAF Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup, the Canadian Championship is viewed as a prestigious event unparalleled in Canada.
New Canadian Content rules introduced by Canada Soccer in 2017 include the requirement that a minimum of three Canadians are in the starting lineup for all Canadian Championship matches which will result in more Canadian players taking the pitch than in any previous editions of the competition’s 10-year history.
In all, the two sides dressed 12 Canadians. Home side Montréal started Maxime Crépeau, Patrice Bernier, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel while David Choinière dressed but did not feature. Visitors Vancouver started Marcel de Jong, Russell Teibert, and Ben McKendry before inserting Alphonso Davies and Marco Bustos in the second half. Sean Melvin, David Norman, and Gloire Amanda dressed but did not feature.
The Battle of the North
“We’re calling this competition The Battle of the North because it really is the pinnacle of Canadian club soccer, and the only competition that gives Canadian professional clubs an opportunity to advance to the international stage,” said Peter Montopoli, General Secretary for Canada Soccer. “Canadian clubs have come close to securing a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup in the past, including the Montréal Impact in 2015. We are confident we’ll see some world-class soccer in each of these upcoming Canadian Championship matches.”
The Path to the FIFA Club World Cup
The path to the FIFA Club World Cup started with the Qualifying Round, with Ottawa Fury FC now joining Canada’s three MLS teams for home and away Semi-final series. The home and away Final round will culminate with the final match on 27 June where the winner will be crowned 2017 Canadian Champion and raise the Voyageurs Cup. A special one-match Battle of the North playoff between the 2016 Canadian Championships winners Toronto FC and the 2017 winners will be played on 9 August in Toronto to determine who will advance, unless Toronto FC repeats as Canadian winners.
The winners of the Battle of the North will have earned its spot to compete in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the region’s most prestigious club tournament, that qualifies its champion directly to the FIFA Club World Cup.
One of the most distinguished club level trophies in soccer, the FIFA Club World Cup pits the winners of CONCACAF Champions League against the winners of the five other continental championships: Asia’s AFC Champions League, Africa’s CAF Champions League, South America’s Copa Libertadores, Oceania’s OFC Champions League, and Europe’s UEFA Champions League. The competition also features the host nation’s national champions.