Impact facing elimination in Canadian championship - CBC

It wasn't so long ago that the Montreal Impact were on top of the world after winning the inaugural Canadian club championship. But times quickly change and the Impact now faces elimination after losing first two games of this year's competition. The Impact travel west Wednesday to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps (7:30 p.m. PT), knowing that anything less than a victory would eliminate them from the tournament. Toronto FC, Canada's lone Major League Soccer club, leads the round-robin standings with six points ahead of Vancouver (three points) and winless Montreal, who both compete in the United Soccer League First Division (one level below MLS). Despite the precarious situation he finds himself in, Montreal coach Marc Dos Santos believes his team can stave off elimination and win in Vancouver. Canadian championship The Canadian club championship is a three-team round-robin tournament involving Toronto FC (Canada's lone Major League Soccer club) and the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps, who compete in the United Soccer League First Division (one level below MLS). The competition serves as the Canadian qualifying tournament for the CONCACAF Champions League. The Canadian club championship runs through June 18, with each team hosting two games. The top team in the final standings will be Canada's representative at the CONCACAF Champions League, an international club competition that crowns the best pro team in North and Central America and the Caribbean. The CONCACAF Champions League winner then goes on to play at the FIFA World Club Championship in the United Arab Emirates in December 2009 against continental champions from Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. English giants Manchester United won the 2008 FIFA World Club Championship. The Impact won last year's inaugural Canadian club championship. "We have a mature team. We may have lost the last game, but we know why," said Dos Santos told the Impact's official website. "We are confident about getting a positive result if we play well during the full 90 minutes. We need to keep believing. With a win Wednesday we can continue dreaming about the title for at least one more week." Confidence may be running high in the Impact camp, but the Whitecaps have home-field advantage, not to mention the psychological edge after earning a 2-0 victory in Montreal last week. Still, Dos Santos believes his team has learned from its mistakes in that game and knows what to look for this time around. "We will have to be cautious so as not to make the same errors as last Wednesday," said the Impact coach. "We know the Whitecaps well. We are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. We will need to keep a close eye on the movement of their two forwards and midfielders. "Offensively, we will have to make them pay for their mistakes. We have good chances of winning if we score. We must absolutely capitalize on our opportunities." If Montreal is to win, they'll have to do it without several key players. Captain Nevio Pizzolitto is suspended after collecting two yellow cards in the competition, while fellow defender Cedric Joqueviel did not travel with the team due to a thigh injury. Midfielders Rocco Placentino and David Testo will also miss out because of thigh injuries. "It will be tough, especially with a few important players absent from the lineup," admitted Dos Santos. "All players, without exceptions, will need to give their full potential. Some players will have to take advantage of the opportunity they are given." A victory would move the Whitecaps into a first-place tie with Toronto FC, although the MLS club would still have a game in hand. Vancouver coach Teitur Thordarson was pleased with his team's offensive output last week, and wants to see a repeat performance Wednesday night. "I thought it was a huge bonus to score two goals in Montreal last week," Thordarson told the Whitecaps' official website. "I thought we could have been 4-0 up last week. Yet, we know that no one game is like the other, so this return match will be very tough for us. "It will be a game where both teams will have to take some risks, so that will make for an interesting contest." The Canadian club championship continues on June 2 when the Whitecaps host Toronto FC. The final game of the tournament sees Toronto visit Montreal on June 18.