The Montreal Impact are hoping to ride a hot streak all the way to a second Amway Canadian Championship.
The Impact will host the Vancouver Whitecaps in Wednesday night’s first leg of the two-game, total-goals final at Saputo Stadium.
Montreal, which won the first ACC title in 2008, bounced back from a 2-0 loss in Toronto on April 24 with a shocking 6-0 win at home one week later for a spot in this year’s final.
Impact goalie Evan Bush, who backs up Troy Perkins in Montreal’s Major League Soccer games, will once again get the start against Vancouver after he helped unseat the four-time defending Voyageur Cup champion Reds.
“He works hard every day,” Impact coach Marco Schallibaum said. “It’s not a present. He merits these games in the Canadian cup.”
Montreal fans were upset with the Impact’s outing in their first game of this year’s ACC competition at BMO Field.
“We went back after and we looked at it and said it was just a bad performance,” Bush said after practice Tuesday. “You know, a lot of the same guys played the next game against Toronto. It just so happened we didn’t play very well in Toronto.
“We came back and we were focused. You’re not always going to win 6-0 but throughout the course of the season we’ve put together some good games. I don’t know if that game necessarily was a statement game but it was an emotional game for everybody at the stadium and within the team it gives us a lot of confidence going into this next leg here.”
The Impact are coming off a spectacular 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Italian defender Matteo Ferrari scored his first MLS goal off a corner kick in injury time after he was charged with an own-goal that gave Salt Lake an early lead.
That win left Montreal tied with Kansas City and Houston for second in the Eastern Conference with 20 points, one point behind New York. The Impact are 4-0-1 at home with a fifth win coming in the second leg of the ACC against Toronto on May 1.
“You see the importance of a home game,” Bush said. “Last time against Toronto they did what they needed to do in a home game. They put a lot of pressure on us. We responded with the way we did but we don’t want to dig ourselves a hole and have to go to Vancouver and make up a goal differential so we’re looking to get off on a good foot here and make a good result tomorrow.”
Montreal will be playing its seventh game in 22 days, including its third in ACC competition.
“It’s nice to be at home knowing that we can prepare and we’re here, having played a lot of games, we don’t have to travel all the way to the West Coast,” said Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier, a native of Brossard, Que. “That helps that we have just played at home and we’re already settled in here.”
Bernier acknowledged that hosting the opening leg puts pressure on Montreal to come out strong.
“We’re going to play for a good result,” Bernier said. “Hopefully we have no goals against and we have a few goals in the bank but we have to be smart. We know that it’s a two-leg series so we don’t want to go there giving something that gives them a little bit more boost knowing that they have an away goal or something like that. We’re going to try to get the best result possible that puts us a little bit one step in the door in the second leg.”
The Whitecaps, runners-up to Toronto in each of the last four ACC tournaments, also find themselves coming into the final on a high note as they get ready to face a new opponent for the Canadian title.
Vancouver beat Los Angeles 3-1 on Saturday for its first-ever win over the Galaxy.
The Whitecaps, who won both legs of its ACC semi-final against FC Edmonton, are currently seventh in the MLS Western Conference with a 3-4-3 mark. They will host the second leg of the ACC final at B.C. Place on May 29.
Midfielder Russell Teibert of Niagara Falls, Ont., scored his first two MLS goals in the victory over Los Angeles. He said the Whitecaps have to use that momentum to help them excel against Montreal, and that given Vancouver’s struggles in Canadian championship play the past two years all of the Whitecaps will be “pumped up and ready to play” the Impact.
“It is a very big game, Canadian championship, and we do want to be the best team in Canada,” Teibert said. “So we need to take (the win over L.A.) forward and build off it.
“Everybody on our team wants to dedicate (a Canadian title) to our club and our fans. We do owe it to them.”
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