MONTREAL — First-half strikes from Severino Jefferson and Joey Gjertson were the difference, but it wasn't an easy 2-0 win for the Montreal Impact over the tenacious Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Impact got their first win of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship on Tuesday night by taking the lead and holding on in a wild second half in which the Whitecaps did everything but score.
"It was a great team performance," said Montreal goalkeeper Matt Jordan. "We fought to the last minute and that will be key for us moving forward.
"We have a lot of respect for Vancouver. They have some dynamic, dangerous players, but we played well as a team."
The Impact, 1-0 losers at home to Toronto FC on May 27, are 1-1 in the series that serves as qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League competition later this year.
It was the first game in the series for Vancouver, the United Soccer Leagues leader which was coming off a 3-0 loss to Rochester in USL play.
The Whitecaps missed some glittering chances in the second half, including one in in the 68th minute in which Matt Jordan slid out and got part of his face on a shot from point blank by Vancouver's big striker Jason Jordan.
"In a situation like that, you just want to stand the player up and make yourself as big as possible," said Jordan, who was shaken up but stayed in the match. "I was fortunate to get my eye and part of my forehead on it."
Jason Jordan, no relation, was still shaking his head after the game.
"I just didn't get it up enough," he said. "He went down and made a fantastic save with his face."
The Impact failed to sell out their new 13,034-seat stadium for the first time in five matches since moving in, but the 10,054 on hand were entertained by a quick-paced game with good scoring chances at both ends.
The Whitecaps, playing without striker Eduardo Sebrango who injured a foot against Rochester, had the first chance only seven minutes in, but Jason Jordan's shot from the left side went just wide.
In the 25th minute, Rocco Placentino's shot went off Vancouver goalkeeper goalkeeper Jay Nolly and was volleyed in by Jefferson at the edge of the box.
The Whitecap's best chance of the half came five minutes later when Jordan set up Alfredo Valente's blast from the left side that forced 'keeper Matt Jordan to make a leaping save.
Gjertsen made it 2-0 in the 35th minute when he was sent in on the right side by Mauro Biello and put a low shot to the far corner.
"We had some good chances. We did well," added Jason Jordan. "I don't think it was a 2-0 game."
The Whitecaps can return the favour when they play host to Montreal in the return leg on June 25. Vancouver is at Toronto on July 1 and hosts Toronto on July 9, while Montreal plays at Toronto on July 22 to complete the series.
"We have three points, like Toronto, but the away games are going to be more difficult," cautioned Montreal coach John Limniatis.
The Whitecaps have been outscored 5-0 in their last two matches. Vancouver coach Teidur Thordarson said his team has had the same problem two games in a row, mistakes on defence in the first half.
"There was a problem with organization in the back, but that came from problems in the midfield and up front," he said.
The Impact made three substitutions in the second half, two of them due to injuries. Gjertson left in the 58th minute with a suspected abdominal strain while defender Cedric Jaqueviel was carried off with a foot injury in the 77th.
Two goals was a high for Montreal at their new grass-field stadium. They were coming off a 1-0 win over Charleston in USL play that ended a six-game goalless drought.
The Nutrilite Canadian Championship has Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto FC facing one another twice, once each home and away, with the winner advancing to a champions league series against a team from Nicaragua.
Notes: Montreal defender Stefano Pesoli served a one-game suspension for drawing a red card against Toronto in the series opener. . .David Testo (hip), Roberto Brown (thigh) and Leonardo Di Lorenzo (thigh) returned for Montreal. . . The only caution of the match went to Vancouver defender Omar Jarun in the 23rd minute. . . The Whitecaps were without star defender Adrian Cann, who is playing a World Cup qualifying series with the Canadian national team.. . Cann will be at Saputo Stadium Friday night when Canada faces St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Canada won the away leg 3-0 on Sunday.