Impact hits TFC hard

Toronto FC's Maurice Edu (left) and Montreal Impact's Rocco Placentino battle during the Canadian...

Toronto FC's Maurice Edu (left) and Montreal Impact's Rocco Placentino battle during the Canadian Championship game on Tuesday. SUN MEDIA/Alex Urosevic

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Toronto FC deserved better.

But a 1-1 tie at BMO Field last night against the Montreal Impact put an end the Reds' hopes of advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League Cup this season.

It also left many wondering how a Major League Soccer franchise with a payroll approaching $2.5 million could not beat a United Soccer Leagues side with less than half that payroll.

The Impacts play in the USL first division, which is considered a league below the MLS.

Don't tell that to TFC coach John Carver, however, as he praised the Montreal side for coming into Toronto and playing as well as any MLS team.

"I give Montreal all the credit in the world," Carver said. "They came in here needing just a point and they got it.

"I heard some of my players talking about them being in a lower league and I told them it wasn't so."

QUESTIONS

With the MLS all-star match slated for tomorrow at BMO Field, featuring the likes of David Beckham and TFC's Jim Brennan against the English Premiership side West Ham United, last night's result indeed calls into question just which North American league is better.

Talk before the match was all about how this was the most important game in the history of both clubs, with just one advancing to the preliminary round of the Champions League to be played in late August against Nicaraguan champions Real Esteli.

For TFC captain Jim Brennan, the result was a devastating blow.

"There's no question every player in this room expected more," he said in the sombre surroundings of the post-game TFC locker room. "I can't remember ever being so disappointed in a 1-1 tie."

To the winner also went national bragging rights as the best club team in the country.

And that it pitted a Toronto side against a Montreal side added one more chapter in a sporting rivalry that dates back more than a century.

Brennan said that one thing the game did was establish that on the soccer pitch, the Toronto versus Montreal rivalry has only just begun.

"It's obvious that Montreal will be in the MLS soon," he said. "(Last night's) game showed that whenever any team from Toronto plays a team from Montreal there is going to be strong emotions involved."

It wasn't as if TFC didn't know what to expect from the Impact.

The Reds came out of Montreal on May 25 with just a 1-0 result after dominating most aspects of the game, as they did at BMO last night.

In fact in the two championship games against the Impact, TFC recorded a win and a tie, but it was a 1-0 loss at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps, the third team in the tournament, and 2-2 draw on the West Coast that did Toronto in.

Last night TFC came out with all guns blazing, creating chance after chance in the opening minutes.

In the 15th minute, a cross by Reds captain Jim Brennan was headed in by Rohan Ricketts giving TFC a 1-0 lead.

But it was obvious from the moment that Roberto Brown's header made it 1-1 in the 26th minute that Montreal was playing for the tie, which gave it the championship.

Impact coach John Limniatis had been critical of how Carver's team prepared for last night's match.

"They don't seem to be a well-oiled machine," Limniatis said. "Their game is missing some flexibility."

Limniatis didn't hide the fact that his game plan was to play for a tie.

But former TFC defender Adam Braz, who now plays for the Impact, said that his teammates didn't come to Toronto for a draw.

"We came here to win," he said.

Limniatis, according to a report out of Montreal, called the Canadian Soccer Association prior to last night's game to complain about the choice of Toronto's Silviu Petrescu as referee for the match.

And the Montreal coach might have had a point. TFC was awarded five free kicks from just outside the box to the Impact's one.

Unfortunately, the Reds were unable to capitalize on any of those five chances.

In previous Canadian championship games, a referee not from the city of either club involved had been chosen.


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