The Montreal Impact will try to win the biggest game in franchise history without the help of their starting goalkeeper.
Due to an accumulation of yellow cards, Montreal's Evan Bush will not play in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Mexico's Club America on Wednesday. The Impact appealed the suspension after the team's first leg in Mexico City last week — a 1-1 draw — but CONCACAF rejected it Monday.
"He's obviously disappointed and upset, which is normal," technical director Adam Braz said of the 29-year-old Bush. "But he's a mature young man and understands that in the end the referee made a decision. He's going to be extremely positive in the next two days as a leader of the group and be vocal and supportive."
CONCACAF told Braz and the Impact that a referee's on-field decision cannot be overturned unless the card had been shown to the wrong player. Since referee Hector Rodriguez intended to give Bush the yellow card, the decision could not be overruled.
"The team was expecting this decision," said Braz. "When you appeal a decision like that, most of the time nothing will change. At the end of the day, it was clear that the referee had a poor performance and failed to make a massive call in the game.
"It happens and you move on. We can't look backward, we can only look forward."
A win or a scoreless draw in the second leg at a sold-out Olympic Stadium would give Montreal the victory on aggregate.
Bush was shown the yellow card in the dying minutes of last Wednesday's game for kicking the ball at Club America's Paul Aguilar seconds after the Mexican side tied the game. The Montreal goalkeeper was also cautioned for wasting time in the semifinal against Costa Rica's Alajuelense earlier in the month.
As a result, Bush will have to watch Wednesday's final from the sidelines.
"He's been great for us and he's made fantastic saves," said Montreal midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. "But these things happen in football and there's nothing we can do about that. All we can do is just move forward and have faith and belief in whoever the management brings in.
"It's just a shame for Bushy to miss the final because he's played such a big part for us. All we can do as players is win this tournament and dedicate it to him."
Second-string goalkeeper Eric Kronberg is ineligible since he played in Sporting Kansas City's Champions League matches last year. Montreal could give the start to goalkeeper John Smits, who is on loan from NASL squad FC Edmonton, or Maxime Crepeau, a 20-year-old coming off a shoulder injury.
The Impact could also still acquire a goalkeeper on loan. However, Braz said the club was not interested in a short-term or one-game loan.