MONTREAL — Marcus Haber and Charles Gbeke scored first-half goals as the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps beat the struggling Montreal Impact 2-0 Wednesday in the second Canadian Nutrilite championship game for both teams.
Vancouver improved to 1-1 in the three-team tournament after winning the match between the United Soccer Leagues First Division rivals. Montreal, playing its third game since firing head coach John Limniatis, fell to 0-2 in the tournament.
"I thought we played an extremely good game," Whitecaps coach Teitur Thordarson said. "In the first half, we were excellent, and deserved the two goals that we scored. In fact, we should have scored more goals before halftime."
Major League Soccer's Toronto FC, the other team in the tournament, is 2-0 after previous wins over both Montreal and Vancouver.
The crowd of 11,483 at Saputo Stadium saw the opposition Whitecaps race to an early two-goal lead.
Haber opened the scoring in the first minute, taking a deep pass from midfielder Gordon Chin and firing a shot past Impact goalkeeper Matt Jordan from inside the penalty area.
It was the first time the Impact conceded a goal in the first of minute of play in club history.
Former Impact forward Gbeke made it 2-0 in the 17th minute, heading home a cross from Whitecaps defender Takashi Hirano.
"Two tactical defensive errors in the first twenty minutes of the game cost us the win, but the players had an excellent attitude as they tried to come back to win," said Impact head coach Marc Dos Santos.
The Impact outshot the Whitecaps 18-6 but couldn't beat Vancouver goaltender Jay Nolly. Montreal did have some bad luck, with Joey Gjertsen and Roberto Brown consecutively hitting the crossbar in the 31st minute.
"Except for the two goals early on, we completely dominated the game," said Impact defender Adam Braz. "It's always tougher to pull through when you concede two goals at the start of the game. It's not always easy to create chances against a good team like Vancouver."
Impact midfielder David Testo missed the game against Vancouver with an automatic one-game suspension following his ejection from Montreal's 1-0 loss at Toronto on May 13.
The winner of the tournament earns a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League. Montreal won the inaugural tournament last year and advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals, drawing 55,571 spectators to Olympic Stadium for a game against Santos Laguna of Mexico in February.
The next game in the tournament is May 27, when the Impact and Whitecaps clash again in Burnaby, B.C. It's a must-win game for the Impact if they wish to revive their dwindling chances of defending their Canadian title.
"It isn't over for us," Dos Santos said. "We keep our hopes up and we will fight until the end. It's still possible, so we have to believe in it."
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.