TFC humbled by Impact - Toronto Star

Morgan Campbell

Tie earns Montreal side Canadian club title and berth in CONCACAF's Champions League

Two minutes from full time Amado Guevara curved a free kick into a crowded penalty area, where it bounced off a teammate's head, then off the goalpost.

Jeff Cunningham managed a glancing shot off the rebound, but a Montreal defender cleared it off the goal line.

Near the TFC bench head coach John Carver looked skyward and ran his hands through his hair, frustrated at another opportunity lost.

A tournament, too.

Toronto FC had several scoring chances late in yesterday's Canadian Championship final against the Montreal Impact, but couldn't break a 1-1 tie in a game they needed to win.

With the draw Montreal finishes first in the three-team Canadian Championship tournament, beating out TFC and the Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL, and earning a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League later this year.

"I have to give them credit. The best team has won the league," Carver said afterward.

"What disappoints me is I hear one or two of our players talk about Montreal playing in a lower league. That's rubbish. That's absolute rubbish ...

"It's not a lower league, and I've said that to the guys."

Toronto opened the scoring in the 15th minute.

Jim Brennan collected Laurent Robert's pass in stride and chipped the ball high across the six-yard box and Rohan Ricketts cut in from the right wing and headed it home.

The goal was his second of the tournament, but Ricketts' said the fact the game ended in a tie tempered his joy.

After his goal put TFC in position to claim the both the game and the tournament, Ricketts said he felt his team eased off.

"You could see it. We just didn't press well after that," he said. "Then they scored and then we stepped it up again.

"We've got to learn from that because that was a chance to get some silverware."

Heading into last night's game TFC had either tied or lost their last eight games, a streak stretching back to mid-June, and one that includes a loss and a tie against the Vancouver Whitecaps in Canadian Championship play.

Eleven minutes after Ricketts' goal, TFC watched another potential win vanish when the Impact's Joey Gjertsen lined up a corner kick in front of two supporters' sections in the southeast corner of the field.

Fans showered him with jeers and streamers and for a moment Gjertsen seemed to disappear behind the falling tissue paper.

But none of it distracted him.

His corner kick curled into the six-yard box, where Impact striker Roberto Brown outjumped the TFC defence and headed the ball past keeper Greg Sutton, who walked away shaking his head in disgust.

He wasn't just frustrated with the goal, but angry at how it happened. He said the team had discussed set plays before taking the field, so he didn't expect a breakdown in that situation.

"We talked about making sure those things weren't going to kill us," said Sutton, who spent six seasons with the Impact before coming to TFC last year.

"We didn't mark as well as we should have and to give a guy a header from six yards away, near post, it's tough to stop."

Montreal will open Champions League play on Sept. 25 on the road against Nicaraguan champion Real Esteli.

The USL's Impact will also receive a cash payout for winning the three-team tournament.

CSA officials wouldn't confirm the size of the prize, but it's less than $1 million that goes to the winner of Superliga, an in-season tournament between MLS and Mexican league teams.

After the all-star break Toronto FC returns to league play July 28, when they visit Real Salt Lake.