BY MARC WEBER
The Vancouver Whitecaps defeated the Montreal Impact 2-0 in a crucial Nutrilite Canadian Championship game Wednesday at Saputo Stadium.
Rookie Marcus Haber scored just 30 seconds in and Charles Gbeke added a second in the 17th off a great cross from Takashi Hirano. Goalkeeper Jay Nolly did the rest, with a little help from his crossbar, which Montreal struck three times. He also made key late saves off Roberto Brown and Felix Brilliant, preserving a two-goal spread that could prove decisive in who advances to the CONCACAF Champions League.
Toronto FC is 2-0-0 after 1-0 home wins over both Vancouver and Montreal. The Whitecaps are now 1-1-0 with two home games remaining, and title holder Montreal is all but done at 0-2-0.
"I think Jay was the best player on the field," said Thordarson. "He had some great saves and was a very important player for us.
"Absolutely that's a good win. Sometimes when that happens [going ahead early], teams relax a bit, but we didn't do that. We continued to play at a high tempo and had a lot of good attacking plays."
The Whitecaps could have been up three or four-nil before the game was 25 minutes old as they moved the ball with the same speed and flow as their unfortunate 2-1 loss to the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday.
After a topless woman tried to interrupt the game by running onto the pitch, the Impact turned it on for the final 15 minutes of the first half, hitting the crossbar three times. All three, however, came with the Caps temporarily down to 10-men, as Jeff Parke went down with a knock to the head and left the field, then Wesley Charles had to exit for a few moments.
"Going into halftime up 2-0 really helped us because we really killed the game after that," said Nolly. "The crossbar was obviously my friend, helped me out in the first half, and most of the other stuff I just had to make myself as big as possible and it worked out.
"We know we needed a win, and we wanted to win by a couple of goals. Now we've just got to take care of business at home."
Ultimately Parke was replaced by Justin Thompson but Charles remained in the game. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines defender did, however, pick up his second yellow card of this tournament, meaning he'll miss next week's return game against the Impact at Swangard Stadium.
Thordarson said there was initial concern for Parke, who sustained a concussion in preseason, but that he'd be OK.
The Caps fourth regular centre back, Marco Reda, didn't make this trip (concussion) but could return to full practice at the end of this week.