Whitecaps FC striker Eric Hassli scores against Montreal

Whitecaps FC defeat Canadian rivals Montreal Impact at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic

KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA - Playing their first match in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1W-0L-0D) earned a 3-0 victory over Canadian arch-rivals and MLS expansion side Montreal Impact (0W-1L-0D) in Kissimmee, Florida, on Friday evening.

A first-half goal by Eric Hassli set the Blue and White up for the win in this first all-Major League Soccer meeting (friendly or competitive) between Vancouver and Montreal at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The ‘Caps sealed victory with a second-half strike from top MLS SuperDraft pick Darren Mattocks and a late penalty from off-season acquisition Sebastien Le Toux.

“It was pleasing to see things that we had been working on in training start to come together,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “We’d been working on defending with our back four and I thought they did fairly well, as they limited the chances that Montreal had. I thought the tempo of our game was quite good. We passed and moved quite well tonight, and that allowed us to set the tone for the match. It’s always nice to win, but it is preseason, and this is another step towards becoming a better team.”

For Friday’s match, Rennie started a more experienced 4-4-2 line-up versus Montreal, with Davide Chiumiento playing in behind Hassli in the Vancouver attack. Impact head coach Jesse Marsch, meanwhile, gave starts to former Whitecaps FC players Jeb Brovsky and Eduardo Sebrango.

On a warm and breezy Florida evening, Whitecaps FC looked sharp with their passing and movement, as they had large spells of possession in the opening quarter of the match. Vancouver had the first couple of chances of the game, with Camilo Sanvezzo forcing a corner after trying to chip the onrushing Donovan Ricketts in the Impact goal from close range. Eight minutes later, Hassli was off-target with a header from Alain Rochat’s well-placed cross from the left.

Although they made a slow start, Montreal created chances of their own before the break. Shortly after youngster Mattocks replaced Chiumiento, who had to leave the match with back spasms, Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon made two big saves to deny the Impact strike pairing of Sebrango and Miguel Montano. Cannon also did well to save a low Felipe Martins shot just before halftime.

Whitecaps FC took the lead on 38 minutes following good work from the impressive Martin Bonjour. The Argentine centre back intercepted a loose ball in the Montreal half before making a run down the right flank and cutting a fine low cross back to Hassli on of the edge of the Impact box. The Frenchman struck a first-time shot with his left foot to beat Ricketts and give Vancouver a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, just before the break, midfielder John Thorrington suffered a quad strain and will be re-evaluated on Saturday.

The ‘Caps picked up where they left off at halftime, as they used the pace and trickery of Camilo and Mattocks to get in behind the Montreal backline. After forcing Ricketts into a pair of saves in the first half, Camilo had the big Jamaican in need of making another important intervention to deny the Brazilian on the hour mark.

Both clubs then made substitutions to get fresh legs on the pitch, with Rennie changing seven of his players on 63 minutes. Six minutes later, Whitecaps FC doubled their advantage through fine play between Mattocks and Le Toux. The former Seattle Sounders FC and Philadelphia Union man found the speedy Mattocks streaking into the Impact box on the left with his pass. The former University of Akron star powered a rising shot from a tight angle past fellow Jamaican Ricketts for his first goal for the Blue and White, and 2-0 Vancouver lead.

The second goal gave Whitecaps FC command of this preseason contest, with the hard-working Le Toux and Mattocks testing Ricketts with further efforts in the last quarter of an hour. Yet, it would be another substitute striker that set up Vancouver’s third goal from the penalty spot, as Long Tan forced the Impact’s Hassoun Camara into conceding the spot kick after he brought down the Chinese youngster. It was Le Toux that stepped up to beat Ricketts with his penalty on 83 minutes and register his first goal for his new club.

The final whistle confirmed a well-earned victory for Whitecaps FC, with the result surely to add to the intrigue of First Kick on Saturday, March 10, as Vancouver and Montreal meet again to open the 2012 MLS campaign on Saturday, March 10.

As a result of Friday’s win, Whitecaps FC lead Group One at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic after MLS Eastern Conference rivals Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City played out a goalless draw in the evening’s first match. Rennie’s side will now prepare for their next group match versus Houston on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. PT.

Scoring summary:
38' - VAN - Eric Hassli (Martin Bonjour)
69' - VAN - Darren Mattocks (Sebastien Le Toux)
83' - VAN - Sebastien Le Toux (penalty kick)

41' - VAN - Camilo Sanvezzo
42' - VAN - Eric Hassli
42' - MON - Davy Arnaud
71' - MON - Felipe Martins
75' - VAN - Gershon Koffie

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee (32.Greg Klazura 63'), 15.Martin Bonjour (19.Carlyle Mitchell 63'), 6.Jay DeMerit (3.Jordan Harvey 63'), 4.Alain Rochat; 9.Atiba Harris (13.Michael Nanchoff 63'), 27.Jun Marques Davidson (16.Matt Watson 63'), 11.John Thorrington (28.Gershon Koffie 45'), 37.Camilo Sanvezzo (31.Russell Teibert 63'); 20.Davide Chiumiento (22.Darren Mattocks 24', 23.Long Tan 80'), 29.Eric Hassli (7.Sebastien Le Toux 63')

Montreal Impact
1.Donovan Ricketts; 15.Jeb Brovsky (29. Calum Mallace 77'), 13.Matteo Ferrari (3. Shavar Thomas, 62'), 5.Tyson Wahl (Hassoun Camara 77', Karl Ouimette 82'), 31.Josh Gardner (38. Gienir Garcia 77'); 22.Davy Arnaud (18. Collen Warner 77'), 7.Felipe Martins (14.Gerson Mayen 77'), 8.Patrice Bernier (Bryan Arguez 77'), 25.Lamar Neagle (28.Sinisa Ubiparipovic); 12.Eduardo Sebrango (26. Mike Fucito 72'), 32.Miguel Montano (33. Andrew Wenger, 67')