Thursday, May 05, 2011

Voyageurs Cup Week 2 report


: Alan Gordon 21'

Stupid headline: None this week. Perhaps the headline writers are still exhausted from the election. Here's a good match report from that socialist rag: the Toronto Star

Story in pictures

Alan Gordon celebrates after tying teammate Maicon Santos for the Voyageurs Cup scoring lead

Two paragraph analysis

Unlike last week, when I was watching the Habs along with those NDP-lovin' Quebecois, I was able to catch the majority of the action in both games. It is difficult to know what to take from the Edmonton-Toronto clash, seeing as the result had all but been decided after Toronto's 3-0 win away last week. But Aron Winter fielded a squad that very much resembled a first choice MLS roster, while Edmonton had a weakened team on the field, largely necessitated by injury and suspension. Given that, I was quite surprised that Edmonton seemed to hold their own throughout the match. Both teams passed the ball around well, at times, while at others they gave away the ball too cheaply. Edmonton lacked the quality ball in the final third, while Toronto produced quality only 2 or 3 times, one of which resulted in the Gordon goal.

It was always going to be a difficult task for Edmonton to advance out of this pairing. They will be happy with the experience and ready to test themselves against less taxing NASL competition. Toronto's situation is more puzzling. Why field your best team when a less talented group could have done the job? And what of the injuries to Gordon, Tchani, and de Guzman? If serious, they've got bigger problems than facing the Whitecaps in the final.

Attendance check: 17,937. Not a sellout, but then the regular MLS games haven't been played to full houses lately either.

Canadian content report
Edmonton was minus a few Canadian regulars but plugged in some Canadian reserves. Adrian Cann and Julian de Guzman featured for TFC, after neither played in the first leg.

Adrian Cann 90
Julian de Guzman 72
Total Mins 90

Kyle Yamada 90
Niko Saler 90
Paul Hamilton 90
Dominic Oppong 73
Antonio Rago 90
Sam Lam 90
Chris Kooy 90
Kyle Porter 90
Paul Craig 28
Total Mins 731

VANCOUVER 1 : 1 MONTREAL (after extra time)

Ali Gerba 84' (pen), Mouloud Akloul 114'

Stupid headline: Caps have impact on the Impact (Montreal Gazette)
We see 'impact' puns in the headlines nearly every time the team plays, but this is probably the most lazy use of that wordplay I've seen to date.

Story in pictures:

This game, really, was all about the Rotund One

Three paragraph analysis
If yesterday evening's first match lacked for drama, this one more than made up for it. Traditional rivals at the division 2 level, this was the first time Vancouver welcomed Montreal as theoretical inferiors. The match largely bore that out, but too often Vancouver squandered good buildup with sloppy passing and errant shooting near the 18. And then Dave Gantar happened.

With Vancouver looking fairly comfortable defending the clean sheet, circumstances conspired to produce a penalty. Whitecaps fans may argue with the call, but I think Mr Gantar on the whole got it right. Anthony Le Gall (I think) whipped in a terrific cross from the left. Ali Gerba left the impression that he meant to attack it. Alain Rochat had his arms draped all over Gerba and seemed to impede his progress to the ball. As Gerba was lining up to take the kick, Rochat signed to his coach Teitur Thordarson by holding his thumb and index finger a few inches apart as if to indicate that, yes, there had been a bit of contact there. Gerba was cool under pressure, and suddenly we were back on.

The first half, though not poorly played, was somewhat pedestrian. The second upped the drama and the quality. Second half additions of Salinas for Vancouver and Mayard and Ribeiro for Montreal increased the attacking skill. The 30 minutes of extra time was near-to-epic, if you're a fan of either team. In the last 15, again Mr Gantar left an impression. With Camilo making a mazy run just above the 18, he had his heels clipped. A free kick was the right call. Rochat, the guilty party on the penalty, struck a terrific free kick that was deflected by a Ribeiro handball (wouldn't that have been an interesting decision), saved by Montreal's Bill Gaudette, and smashed home by the large Frenchman, and seeming fan favourite, Mouloud Akloul. Good news for Vancouver, yet because the away goals rule applies also to extra time (I hate this!), Vancouver still had to sweat. And they were nearly made to pay as Ali Gerba, after 120 minutes on the pitch, played the ball out wide and then full on sprinted into space to meet the cross, and spilled the wide open header onto the post on essentially the last gasp of the match.

If you've got in on TiVo, watch the last 15 again. This is why this tournament matters. With the 1-1 draw, Vancouver advances 2-1 on aggregate to meet Toronto over the two-legged final.

Attendance check: 16,611. Similar to Toronto's crowd earlier in the evening.

Canadian content report
Montreal followed the exact same Canadian starting/substitution pattern as last week (as well as in one of their NASL games) where Pizzo and Gerba start, and Mayard and Ribeiro are brought on at exactly 75 minutes. Terry Dunfield and Russell Teibert both played a full 90 for Vancouver, but only Dunfield was allowed to continue playing into the extra 30 minutes.

Terry Dunfield 120
Russell Teibert 90
Total Mins 210

Nevio Pizzolitto 120
Ali Gerba 120
Pierre-Rudolph Mayard 45
Antonio Ribeiro 45
Total Mins 330


Player Team Goals
Maicon Santos Toronto 2
Alan Gordon Toronto 2
Terry Dunfield Vancouver 1
Ali Gerba Montreal 1
Mouloud Akloul Vancouver 1

All 3 of week 1's goal scorers were making their Canadian Championship debuts.

No matches next week. The final kicks off 18 May 2011 as Toronto visits Vancouver for the first leg.

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