Sunday, October 4, 2009
Both Canadian clubs and lower seeds in the USL First Division Semifinals took advantage of their first leg leads on the road as they held on to advance to the USL First Division Championship Series Sunday evening as Montreal won in Puerto Rico and Vancouver earned a draw in Portland.
The evening began in the Caribbean where the Montreal Impact brought a 2-1 lead into the second match of the series. Two minutes into the contest Peter Byers pushed the series advantage to two goals.
The Impact then kept the constant attack from the Puerto Rico Islanders off the board until Josh Hansen was able to convert a penalty four minutes from time to level the game.
It proved to not be enough as the Impact held on and got an insurance goal from Eduardo Sebrango in stoppage time to hand Puerto Rico only its second loss at home in all competitions in 2009, posting a second 2-1 win for a 4-2 series victory. The Impact are the lone team in the playoffs to win all four games.
In the Northwest, the regional rivals also saw the Canadian side with a 2-1 advantage heading into the second leg. A high-paced affair right from the start, the Vancouver Whitecaps pushed the series lead to two goals on a Marcus Haber header.
Two strikes from Brian Farber then gave the Portland Timbers the lead in the game while leveling the series, but a free kick strike from Martin Nash and a scramble in the box again put the Whitecaps in front by two in the series when Marlon James put away the loose ball.
Portland sub Alex Nimo, however, scored a cracker with seven minutes left to create a frenzy in the final minutes, but the defending champions held on against the regular season champions for a 3-3 draw to return to the Championship Series 5-4 on aggregate.
Vancouver, seeded seventh, will play host to Montreal in the first leg of the championship series, while the fifth-seeded Impact will host the second leg.