usl d1


usl d1 final Will dedicate win to his late father

BY RANDY PHILLIPS

Forward Eduardo Sebrango will honour his late father if the Impact wins the United Soccer Leagues First Division championship tomorrow.

"I'll dedicate it to him. Definitely," Sebrango said yesterday. "Obviously, he has meant so much to me and to our family. He is missed. I want to win this one for him."

The Impact entertains the Vancouver Whitecaps at

Saputo Stadium, 2:30 p.m., in the deciding game of the first all-Canadian final in league history. Montreal defeated the Whitecaps 3-2 in Vancouver last Saturday and has a one-goal advantage in the two-game, aggregate-goal series.

A sell-out crowd of 13,034 will be in attendance.

Sebrango, 36, a native of Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, lost his father Julio Rafael, age 65, in mid-June after a brief battle with cancer. Sebrango twice returned home this season, first for a two-week period

before the regular season started to spend time with his ailing father and later for the funeral - for which he missed three games.

He admitted concern for his family contributed to his struggles on the field this season (only four goals).

"It's been a tough season for myself and the whole team," said Sebrango, noting the club's difficulties in the first half of the season before things turned around. "I know how important this game is. It's going to be special if I get the chance to win it and celebrate it."

Sebrango could be key to the team's fortunes tomorrow as it seeks its third league title in franchise history and the first since 2004. He has a knack for scoring big goals in the playoffs and proved so in Game 1 last week, coming off the bench to net the winner in the final minute.

Sebrango played with the Impact from 2003 to 2005 before spending the last three seasons in Vancouver. Rejoining the Impact as a free agent during the offseason, he's also poised to become the only player in league history to win five championships.

He won titles with Rochester in 2001, here in 2004, and with Vancouver in 2006 and 2008. He's tied with Vancouver midfielder and former Impact player Martin Nash with four championships.

Nash, the brother of two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, played 22 games with the Impact in 2003, won with Rochester in 2000 and 2001 and with Vancouver in 2006 and 2008 as well.

Nash will miss the final game to serve a one-game suspension after receiving a red card in the 51st minute last week for tackling Impact

forward Roberto Brown.

"It would be a nice bonus to get the fifth (championship)," Sebrango said.

If the teams finished tied on aggregate at the end of 90 minutes of regulation time tomorrow, a 30-minute overtime will be played, followed by penalty kicks if needed.

Meanwhile, USL D1 senior director Chris Economides used yesterday's media banquet to announce that Puerto Rico's Cristian Arrieta earned league MVP and defender-of-the-year honours.

Portland's Gavin Wilkinson, who guided the Timbers from a worst-to-first finish in the regular season, was named coach of the year, beating out Impact interim head coach Marc Dos Santos.

Vancouver striker and former Impact Charles Gbeke

received an award as the league's top goal-scorer with 12, while the Whitecaps Wesley Knight and Ricardo Sanchez were co-recipients of the award for most assists, each with eight.

rphillips@thegazette.canwest.com

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