Players prepare for decisive Montreal showdown
Entering their second full month of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC will look again to raise their spirits with another result in this year's Nutrilite Canadian Championship, as Montreal Impact come to town on Wednesday night.
The Blue and White were left disappointed again by another 2-1 defeat in Major League Soccer action, with the latest setback coming at Eastern Conference club Columbus Crew. Though Teitur Thordarson's side were unable to take any points from the Ohio state capital, a late rally nearly earned Vancouver a draw and will have given the 'Caps much reason for optimism going into this week's semifinal, second leg, clash with Montreal.
Vancouver lead the two-match semifinal series 1-0 on aggregate after local product Terry Dunfield scored a valuable away goal in the second half of last Wednesday's first leg at Montreal's Stade Saputo. "There's still all to play for and we're going to have to be on our game to carry on from where we left things in Montreal," said Dunfield. "It's a big tournament for us and we definitely want to progress in it."
One player that will hope to take Whitecaps FC a step closer to the club's first Voyageurs Cup title is youngster Omar Salgado. The top pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft gave the 'Caps a glimpse of his promising talents with a fine consolation strike in his first league start on Saturday. It was the 17-year-old first goal in MLS. "The Nutrilite Canadian Championship is very important to us, as it leads to a great tournament called the CONCACAF Champions League, so Wednesday is a very important game," said the United States U-20 international. "I've been told that Montreal is a huge rivalry for our club, so it's going to be a great game. We’re up 1-0 and we have to keep that lead."
Should the 'Caps reach the two-leg championship final, they face a busy month of seven games, including game action on every Wednesday night in May. Thordarson says his side are ready to adjust to the schedule that lies in front of them. "There isn’t much time for any training, with the schedule as it is," said the former Iceland international striker. "At the moment, we are spending our time doing light recovery sessions and small preparations for each game. Those players that have not been playing have had some good training sessions, but they too need to be fresh, as we will need them in this busy period."
Wednesday's Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal, second leg, match between Whitecaps FC and Montreal Impact on Bell Pitch at Empire Field kicks off at 8 p.m. PT. Individual tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).