Le Toux goal celebration
Bob Frid

Whitecaps FC defeat Canadian arch-rivals Montreal Impact in MLS season opener

VANCOUVER, BC - Playing one of the first matches of the 2012 Major League Soccer season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1W-0L-0D) defeated Canadian arch-rivals and MLS expansion club Montreal Impact (0W-1L-0D) 2-0 on Saturday afternoon.

An early goal by newcomer Sebastien Le Toux set Whitecaps FC on their way to a second-straight victory in an MLS season opener. ‘Caps head coach Martin Rennie secured his first win as an MLS head coach after Camilo Sanvezzo scored Vancouver’s second goal early in the second half on Bell Pitch at BC Place.

Though they created some excellent chances, Montreal’s inaugural MLS match ended in disappointment, as Whitecaps FC defended resolutely throughout the weekend match, with ‘Caps goalkeeper Joe Cannon earning the clean sheet for the home side.

“I’m just really pleased to get the win,” Rennie said after the match. “There was a little bit of pressure on us with it being our home opener, and against an expansion team and a big rival in Montreal. So, for the first time in a while, Whitecaps FC were the favourite going into an MLS game and that brought a little bit of pressure with it, but that was something that we handled well.”

Whitecaps FC gave three players their MLS debuts against the Impact. They included defenders Martin Bonjour and Young-Pyo Lee, as well as holding midfielder Jun Marques Davidson, who earned the first ‘Budweiser Man of the Match’ award of the season following a stellar debut performance. Le Toux, meanwhile, made his competitive debut for the Blue and White on Saturday. Impact head coach Jesse Marsch gave former ‘Caps player Jeb Brovsky a start at right fullback.

In keeping with this Canadian rivalry, a sold-out BC Place crowd of 21,000 were treated to a well-contested first half of soccer, with Montreal showing little signs of nerves in the early stages after goal-bound efforts from Sanna Nyassi, Josh Gardner, and Patrice Bernier.

However, it was the ‘Caps that drew first blood through their French connection on four minutes. Alain Rochat’s forward ball was neatly flicked on by Eric Hassli to strike partner Le Toux. The Frenchman rounded Impact centre back Tyson Wahl before neatly finishing under a diving Donovan Ricketts in the Montreal goal for a 1-0 Vancouver lead. It was Le Toux’s first competitive goal for the ‘Caps and the fastest first goal to open an MLS season in league history.

Having taken the early lead, the home side looked confident in attack, as they went in search of a second goal before the break. Though they threatened on several occasions, the ‘Caps were unable to break through again before halftime. To their credit, Montreal went close to finding an equalizer before the break. Justin Mapp sailed a shot over the Vancouver crossbar on 23 minutes before Nyassi struck the side-netting a minute later. It meant Whitecaps FC held a one-goal lead at halftime.

It was shortly after the break that Whitecaps FC sealed all three points with a second goal on 54 minutes. In a passing move that will surely whet the appetite of Vancouver fans for the rest of the season, Le Toux’s centered pass from the right flank was cleverly dummied by Hassli to Davide Chiumiento. The Swiss playmaker’s first-time pass found Camilo, whose darting run towards the Impact goal allowed the Brazilian to finish past Ricketts from six yards out for his first goal of the season and a 2-0 Vancouver lead.

‘Caps fans were in festive mood at that stage, but more credit must go to Montreal, as they created several fine chances to get back into the match. Two of the Impact’s best efforts came around the hour mark, with Nyassi striking over the Vancouver crossbar with a turn and shot, while Lee had to make a goal-line clearance from Impact captain Davy Arnaud’s goal-bound header. On 71 minutes, Cannon did well to tip Arnaud’s long-range shot over his crossbar for a Montreal corner.

By the late stages, it was Vancouver that looked more likely to add a third goal, with Rochat unlucky to hit the post with his low shot on 87 minutes. Match referee Ricardo Salazar eventually blew the final whistle, as Vancouver celebrated a positive start to their second campaign in MLS with a two-goal victory.

Both clubs return to MLS action next Saturday, with Whitecaps FC visiting Western Conference rivals Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, while the Impact get ready for their first home match in MLS when they host Eastern Conference rivals Chicago Fire at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

Budweiser Man of the Match: Jun Marques Davidson

Scoring Summary:
4' - VAN - Sebastien Le Toux (Eric Hassli, Alain Rochat)
54' - VAN - Camilo Sanvezzo (Davide Chiumiento)

Match Stats:
Shots: Vancouver 12 - Montreal 8
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 5 – Montreal 7
Saves: Vancouver 7 – Montreal 3
Fouls: Vancouver 13 – Montreal 26
Offsides: Vancouver 2 – Montreal 2
Corners: Vancouver 4 – Montreal 4

19' - MTL - Felipe Martins
28' - MTL - Patrice Bernier
58' - VAN - Martin Bonjour

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 4.Alain Rochat; 37.Camilo Sanvezzo (16.Matt Watson 81’), 28.Gershon Koffie, 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 20.Davide Chiumiento (3.Jordan Harvey 64’); 7.Sebastien Le Toux, 29.Eric Hassli (22.Darren Mattocks 89’)

Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 23.Long Tan, 36.Bryce Alderson

Montreal Impact
1.Donovan Ricketts; 15.Jeb Brovsky, 13.Matteo Ferrari, 5.Tyson Wahl, 31.Josh Gardner; 22.Davy Arnaud, 8.Patrice Bernier (32.Miguel Montano 81’), 7.Felipe Martins, 21.Justin Mapp (26.Mike Fucito 64’); 11.Sanna Nyassi, 17.Justin Braun (33.Andrew Wenger 72’)

Substitutes not used: 24.Greg Sutton, 3.Shavar Thomas, 18.Collen Warner, 19.Zarek Valentin