BY GARY KINGSTON
VANCOUVER — The bad news for the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday was that the Montreal Impact found its offence.
The good news for the ‘Caps was that, well, that the Impact found its offence.
Ex-Whitecaps Eddy Sebrango and David Testo scored first-half goals as the Impact, who had just one goal in their previous four games during which they were shutout in back-to-back Nutrilite Canadian Championship games by Vancouver, were 2-1 victors in USL First Division action at Swangard Stadium.
With the win, Montreal moved into a sixth-place tie with the Whitecaps, the defending league titleholders who dropped to a disappointing 3-4-2 for the USL campaign.
It was the second time in two weeks that the Whitecaps followed a huge Nutrilite win with a USL loss.
“We just didn’t manage to follow up the good games we’ve had in Nutrilite, that’s what hurts a little bit,” said head coach Teitur Thordarson. “We didn’t get the rhythm as we wanted and weren’t good enough to beat them.”
But the Nutrilite heavyweights could at least console themselves with the fact the Impact, who have been hit hard by injuries, suddenly look capable of at least keeping it close with Toronto FC on June 18 in the Nutrilite final.
If Toronto doesn’t win by four goals or more in that game in Montreal, the Whitecaps will take the title.
“We’re going to give [Toronto] our best,” said Testo, whose Impact are out of the running for the championship they won last year. “We’re going to go out of the tournmaent with pride.”
If the Whitecaps do indeed go into the next round of CONCACAF action, they will have to eliminate the kind of mental mistakes that cost them Sunday in front of 5,288 antsy fans.
An ill-advised run forward by Whitecaps centreback Wesley Charles on an attempted give-and-go led to the first Montreal goal in the 20th minute.
The ball was lost at midfield and when Montreal went on the quick counter-attack, Vancouver was caught a man short in the middle.
Felix Brilliant delivered a strong through ball to Rocco Placentino, whose shot forced Whitecaps’ keeper Jay Nolly to the ground to make the save.
The rebound was easily slotted past the prone Nolly by the ever-dangerous Sebrango.
Vancouver tied the score in the 42nd minute, when Ansu Toure’s cross from the left side of the box fell to the feet of Whitecaps striker Marcus Haber at the far post.
He blasted the ball from close range into the roof of the net. But with the crowd still buzzing over that goal, Montreal re-captured the lead with a cracker of a shot from Testo.
He took a long throw-in from Simon Gatti, was allowed to make a quick turn at the top of the box and delivered a left-footed rocket into the far corner.
“When you’re that far out and at that angle, you’re just trying to get it on goal,” said Testo, who scored on a similar strike at Swangard last season.
Said Whitecaps’ captain Martin Nash: “You put that in the goal, you kind of just clap your hands. There’s not much you can do about it. That’s one in a hundred. It’s not going to happen very often from that angle.”
The scoreless second half was a chippy affair with several hard fouls that left players writhing on the field.
Midfielder Wes Knight (ankle), Charles (hip) and centreback Jeff Parke (toe) all had to be substituted for in the second half for the Whitecaps.
Thordarson made all five of his allowable substitutions in the second half, including bringing on young residency team call-up Dever Orgill, as the ‘Caps put on same late pressure. But the Montreal defence and goalkeeper Matt Jordan held strong.
“We’ve got to step up and start winning some games here,” said Nash. “We can’t just rely on the Nutrilite, we’ve got to do it in the league, too. We’ve got to get sharper all around, all through the park.”
• The women Whitecaps recorded their third straight 1-1 tie to open their W League season as they held their own Sunday with the reigning league champions, Pali Blues of California, in the early game at Swangard.
The Blues beat Vancouver 4-0 and 3-0 last season enroute to a 14-0 record and they’re now 2-0-2 this season. But it was the ‘Caps who struck first in the 28th minute as Kirsteen Buchan brought down a nice through ball from Amy Vermuelen with her right foot and then half-volleyed the ball inside the post with her left foot.
The Blues controlled much of the play in the second half and tied the game in the 54th minute.
A Nikki Washington cross to the far post went in off Iris Mora’s knee as the Pali player and Whitecaps defender Shannon Woeller collided with goalkeeper Sian Bagshawe.
Canadian national team member Carmelina Moscato made her return to the Whitecaps, playing a strong game in centreback tandem with Randee Hermus.
Moscato, 25, was a slick playmaking midfielder with the ‘Caps when they won the 2004 league title, then moved to the Ottawa Fury for three seasons.
Next games - Friday
vs. L.A. Legend
vs. Miami FC Blues
Both games at Swangard Stadium
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