The most successful Canadian playoff team in MLS history outscored the best Canadian regular season team in MLS history 3-2 on Soccer Sunday, despite being outshot 21-11.
Montreal got off to a tough start in Vancouver, barely touching the ball for the first seven minutes. However, they quickly found their form and pulled ahead with a goal from Ignacio Piatti. In classic Nacho style, he got the ball from Shipp while under pressure from a Vancouver defender, nutmegged another, danced around two more and found the back of the net. After that, the Impact were totally in control.
Some Nacho with a side of Flamenco
Dominic Oduro doubled the lead just before the first half ended, putting the Impact in a great position to start their season strong, and momentarily silencing a BC Place crowd that had remained raucous even after Piatti's goal.
Jordan Harvey managed to answer with one of his own off of a Pedro Morales free kick in the 45th, but the Whitecaps couldn't come back from the deficit in the second half. Octavio Rivero was denied by Evan Bush repeatedly, unable to get past the Impact 'keeper. Canadian national team player Kianz Froese looked dangerous the whole time he was on the field, but couldn't find the back of the net for an equalizer either.
Piatti put a little extra salt in the wound and completed a brace in the 88th minute. Lucky he did, as it turned out to be the game winner when Kendall Waston scored off of a corner in the third minute of stoppage time.
Shipp has arrived
Beyond his assist, Shipp proved his worth and then some, creating plenty of chances for his teammates and sending a dangerous ball just wide himself in the first half. In the Impact back line, Evan Bush and Laurent Ciman continued their excellent form from 2015, both making plenty of crucial defensive plays. Ambroise Oyongo (whose error lead to the Whitecaps goal), Christian Bolaños, and Fraser Aird each saw a yellow card for aggressive tackles.
Additional thoughts: Let's talk Rivalry
The rivalry between Montreal and Vancouver has always felt a little forced, in part because the teams only meet once each year in the MLS regular season. Tonight, it felt different.
It may have just been Vancouver trying to claw back from the early goal and win their home opener, or it might be the start of something more. In all likelihood, Montreal will challenge Vancouver again this summer to take back the Canadian Championship title. We'll see how this develops in July.
Both teams opted to wear their secondary kits, seeing Vancouver in Montreal's blue and the Impact in Whitecaps White.
I imagine Vancouver wants to show off their new secondary, while IMFC wants to save their slick new jerseys for their first home game next week - a classic win-win for kit sales.
With Didier Drogba taking a few weeks off to avoid turf fields and Cameron Porter out with a minor injury, I expected to see Michael Salazar as Oduro's bench depth. Instead, Anthony Jackson-Hamel found a spot in the gameday 18 and Salazar got a pre-season start (and a goal!) for FC Montreal.
MTL: GK - Evan Bush; D - Ambroise Oyongo, Laurent Ciman, Victor Cabrera, Donny Toia; M - Marco Donadel (Calum Mallace 56'), Eric Alexander, Harry Shipp, Ignacio Piatti, Lucas Ontivero (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 53'); F - Dominic Oduro (Camara 90+1')
Subs not used: GK - Eric Kronberg; D - Wandrille Lefèvre; M - Maxim Tissot, Kyle Bekker
VAN: GK - David Ousted; D - Fraser Aird, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; M - Matias Laba, Kianz Froese (Blas Perez 66'), Christian Bolaños, Pedro Morales, Cristian Techera (Kekuta Manneh 61'); F - Octavio Rivero (Masato Kudo 81')
Subs not used: GK - Paolo Tornaghi; D - Pa Modou Kah, Sam Adekugbe; M - Deybi Flores
MTL - Piatti, 19' (Shipp)
MTL - Oduro, 42' (Piatti)
VAN - Harvey, 44' (Morales)
MTL - Piatti, 88' (Oduro)
VAN - Harvey, 90+3' (Bolaños)
MTL - Oyongo, 45'
VAN - Bolaños, 62'
VAN - Aird, 77'