Caps were tougher with Wes Charles
By Marc Weber
Before the first leg of the USL-1 final, Montreal Impact forward Eduardo Sebrango called the Whitecaps vulnerable.
"Defensively, they're still missing something," he said.
A prophetic statement, and not just because his anticipation and determination earned him the right to head the late 3-2 winner Saturday at Swangard.
Vancouver was on the back foot for 50 minutes. The only answer to Montreal's possession and the potent runs of forwards Peter Byers and Roberto Brown was goalkeeper Jay Nolly.
When the Whitecaps finally sorted themselves out in attack -- which, surprisingly, coincided with the dismissal of Martin Nash -- they were still penning a Choose Your Own Adventure book going the other way.
Shots were 19-9 for the Impact; the most Vancouver allowed all season.
The Caps have scored five goals in their past two games. But they've allowed six -- reminiscent of the first three-quarters of the campaign.
"In this late stage of the season, not too great," is how centre back Shaun Pejic described the defence.
"We're all disappointed in the performance. We didn't do any of the things we've been working on the last couple of games, so it was frustrating. But ... we were down to 10 men and we're only one goal down. If we can get that first goal in Montreal we're right back in it."
They can get that goal Saturday at Saputo Stadium. The forwards are that good. Trouble is, they might need three or four goals to win.
Pejic, who came over from England in August, ended up looking like the goat on the first two goals.
The opener was a cross that deflected in off his torso. On the second, he flew past a poised Byers with a desperation slide tackle after Byers sneaked in behind the defence.
But it was a team deficiency. Too much time and space for the Impact all over the field. Too soft into tackles. Too lethargic.
"I'm disappointed, but it wasn't a great team game," said Pejic, a nephew of former England defender Mike Pejic and a Wales U21 player himself. "We can keep it a lot more solid."
Sebrango said the Whitecaps were easier to play without Wesley Charles, the centre back released in July after tussles with teammates. Sebrango and Charles were champions together with the Caps.
They could have used Charles's clattering tackles, rather than just his support from the Swangard stands.
Still, coach Teitur Thordarson stood behind his centrebacks pairing of Pejic and second-year Whitecap Luca Bellisomo.
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