USL News Release
Saturday, October 10, 2009
BURNABY, BC -- A quiet first half in the opening leg of the 2009 USL First Division Championship Series gave way to a thriller in the second half as the Montreal Impact saw their 1-0 road lead at the break turn into goal-fest in the second stanza as four strikes followed a surprising Martin Nash send-off in a game that finished 3-2 in favor of Montreal, who remain a perfect 5-0-0 in the postseason.
The Whitecaps came out struggling to find a rhythm in the first half, leading to several opportunities for the Impact.
In the eighth minute Vancouver’s Jay Nolly came out to handle a Leonardo Di Lorenzo cross, but a collision with a defender left the ball free for Roberto Brown, but the bounce created a difficult strike that flew high.
Peter Byers cut toward the area for Montreal two minutes later and laid it off to Brown, who dropped it back to Di Lorenzo for a shot that went just wide from 23 yards.
In the 24th minute, a streaking Di Lorenzo down the left flank crossed into the area, but a diving Brown missed the ball by inches as it flashed across the six.
It appeared Nolly made the biggest play of the first half just before the break when Byers had beaten Shaun Pejic in the box and had a point blank chance from eight yards, but the blast went into the chest of the netminder.
But the Impact finally broke through a minute later in the 45th minute. Defender Stephen deRoux had come up the flank and played the ball into the area from the edge of the box. Brown got the back of his head on the ball, but the slight header deflected severely off of Pejic and into the back of the net for an own goal.
Five minutes into the second half, bad became worse for Vancouver as Martin Nash got up from being tripped and immediately lunged into a tackle on Roberto Brown that was followed with a red card, sending him off the pitch for the remainder of the series.
But just a few minutes later, the USL-1 Rookie of the Year Marcus Haber proved his worth of the honor with a brilliant individual effort to level the match. He made a lengthy run up the middle of the pitch, cutting back toward the center inside the box and firing the shot into the far back corner of the net in the face of a Montreal defender.
Montreal nearly went up again just after the turn of the hour when a lofted cross to the far side of the box was sent back across the middle on the pitch by Di Lorenzo to Brown, who sent a 15 yard shot off the bottom of the right post.
But in the 63rd, Byers sliced through the Vancouver defense for the go-ahead goal. A ball forward found Byers behind the defense, but kept onside by the back on the far side. The speedy striker drove to the endline before cutting past one defender and slipping the ball by Nolly from a narrow angle as the second defender tried to cut him off.
But the game that was lackluster first half fully converted into a thriller two minutes later when the other Rookie of the Year candidate from the Whitecaps, Wes Knight, played a key role on a restart. His long throw deep into the Montreal half was sent into the area only to see it cleared right back to him. His subsequent cross found a rising Marlon James eight yards from goal for a header into the back of the net for their second equalizer a man down.
In the 72nd minute Nolly came up big on a play that began with a Brown header from 10 yards that went just over the diving keeper and off the crossbar. The ricochet bounced down in front of goal allowing Eduardo Sebrango to head a second effort toward goal that the keeper was able to get off the ground to lunge and parry off the line as he rolled into the side netting. The rebound fell to Brown, who was unable to pull the ball back into the frame, sending it just wide.
Sebrango, the all-time leading scorer in the head-to-head series with three goals for each team previously, scored his fourth in an Impact uniform against his former side in the 88th minute with a fantastic follow-up. The play started with a blazing shot from Rocco Placentino that Nolly popped straight up in the air. This time Sebrango came crashing in with a header as the keeper was trying to get off the ground, knocking it in as he barreled over the line.
In the second minute of stoppage time, Vancouver nearly answered back yet again, but Marlon James’ effort rolled just wide of the far post.
Traditionally a low-scoring match-up between the two, the match marked the first time since June 11, 2004 that one of the two sides scored three – a span of 21 games in league and Nutrilite Canadian Championship play. It was also only the second time in 46 meetings between the two in which the losing team scored twice with the other coming in 1995.
The aggregate score USL-1 Championship Series finishes next Saturday in Montreal at 2:30 pm ET live on Fox Soccer Channel.
Stat Report [+] Montreal Report [+] Vancouver Report [+]