Another Canadian Championship final. Another heartbreaker for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
With a chance to make history Wednesday and finally clinch their first ever Voyageurs Cup, the 'Caps instead played runner-up for the fifth straight year, losing the two-game aggregate based on the away-goals rule. And if you're counting at home, that's now 12 years of futility for Vancouver when it comes to the supporters-created trophy.
A goal by Montreal's Hassoun Camara in the 84th minute tied the game at 2-2, the final score in the second leg at BC Place. Thanks to their goals coming on the road, it was good enough for the Impact to secure their eighth title, and now represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League for the second time.
"Tonight, it definitely hurts," coach Martin Rennie said. "It's not the first hard luck story the club has had in this competition. That's why it means so much to us because we know the agonies that the fans have been through. It did seem like we did almost everything right but it didn't drop for us."
There were no excuses for the Whitecaps. They were playing at home, they had 10 days off between games heading into Wednesday's match, and there were no controversies like in years before. In the end, they simply didn't get the job done again.
"Two goals at home should be enough to win the game," Kenny Miller said. "It's a hard pill to swallow when you play so well, you don't get beat in the match yet on the away goal, it can ruin a Cup final.
"To say we're disappointed is a huge understatement."
Having played to a scoreless draw in the first leg in Quebec two weeks ago, all Montreal needed was a draw involving goals to win the aggregate. A nil-nil scoreline would have sent the game into extra time, while Vancouver needed an outright victory.
It's exactly why the mindset for the Whitecaps heading into the title match was attack, attack, and attack. And to their credit, they certainly did that early and often.
In front of 18,183 in Vancouver, the hosts came out with pressure as striker Camilo and midfielder Gershon Koffie both generated chances in the early minutes. Then, at the four minute mark, they converted on a beauty.
Camilo's free kick strike from 35 yards found the back of the net, giving the forward his third goal of the tournament. About five minutes later, Montreal's Camara headed the ball past Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton but it was called back on the offside.
Vancouver kept the pressure on with Johnny Leveron's header hitting the crossbar, Koffie's header going just over the net, and striker Kenny Miller's shot being stopped by keeper Evan Bush. The 'Caps finished with six shots on goal — and 11 total shots — in the first half.
It was a reversal of roles early in the second though, as the Impact were the ones scoring four minutes in. Felipe Martins' shot from inside the box beat Knighton to tie the game at one, meaning Vancouver was forced to score another.
A blessing in disguise came not long after as Koffie, who suffered a quad strain and had to be taken off the pitch on a stretcher, was replaced by Daigo Kobayashi. And it was the substitute who eventually potted the go-ahead goal.
Off a Nigel Reo-Coker cross in the 69th minute, Kobayashi got the final touch on a quick scramble in front to put the Whitecaps back up on top.
And with pressure still piling on, Camilo's shot went off the post moments later.
But then the dagger by an unmarked Camara came on a corner kick with about six minutes to go, ending Vancouver's dream for silverware.
Jordan Harvey had two great chances in added time, one on a header over the net and another on a shot just wide.
"We have to find a way to win these games, so there's a lot of reflection going on right now," goalkeeper Brad Knighton. "There's not much that's said in there because I think everyone is at a loss for words to be honest."
Montreal will now play in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League — a tournament comprised of 24 teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The draw for the event will take place next Monday and the group stage will begin in the week of August 6 to 8.
"We put a lot of stock into this tournament, we put a lot of time into it," Rennie said. "But it's time to move onto the next phase of our season."
Vancouver continues their Major League Soccer play with a game Saturday in New York against the Red Bulls.