MLS’ opening weekend was one of mixed fortunes for its three Canadian clubs.
Montreal Impact, playing its first-ever season-opener at home was the only one of the three to record maximum points.
Main rivals Toronto FC without Michael Bradley or Pablo Piatti, looked set to emulate the Impact, racing into a two-goal lead (Pozuelo pk & Laryea) somewhat against the run of play in San Jose, but the Earthquakes responded to level matters. First Andres Rios pulled a goal back to halve the arrears on 54 mins, then new signing from Chivas-Guadalajara Oswaldo Alanis made it a debut to remember when his curling direct free-kick evaded Westberg and found the net... five minutes into added time.
“I’m not disappointed in our performance. I’m not disappointed in anything,” said TFC coach Greg Vanney after the match. “Our effort was incredible. I’m just disappointed for the group because in the end you want to take those three points. That’s the only thing I’m disappointed or frustrated about.”
At BC Place, the Whitecaps’ pre-season optimism evaporated in the 17th minute when another ex-Chivas Guadalajara player Alan Pulido put Sporting Kansas in the driving seat.
Nerwinski levelled for Vancouver, but they still went in behind at the interval thanks to Gadi Kinda’s spectacular strike for the visitors on 39.
Canadian DP Lucas Cavallini almost rescued the game for the Caps twice, hitting the post just before half-time, and then being thwarted by SKC ‘keeper Tim Melia who came out to smother with three regulation minutes left on the clock.
But like TFC, Vancouver were made suffer in the 5th minute of added time, when Gerson Fernandes showed neat footwork to set up Erik Hurtado, formerly of the Whitecaps, to slam home the decisive score.
Coach Marc Dos Santos put his team’s opening night struggles down to nerves and pressure. “The beginning was disappointing. A lot of anxiety on our side. We really wanted to do well, we were ready to play, but for some reason, we didn’t start the way we wanted to.”
Lucas Cavallini was critical of his team’s execution from a tactical standpoint.
“That’s not my type of game, [and] as a team that’s not our type of game.” said the Canadian striker. “If we were to lose and played well, I would tell you....The first half, there were a lot of moments where we were just playing the game Kansas City wanted us to play...we were falling into their trap. We just needed to stick with our game. Keep the ball on the ground, start moving it, and just relax with it. Don’t feel under pressure, just go with the flow.”
So it was left to Montreal Impact to claim the only win for Canada on Opening Day. It didn’t look so rosy when Teal Bunbury opened the scoring for New England in the 13th minute, however a debut goal for Quioto off a debut assist for Waterman, levelled matters before half-time.
Maxi Urruti, who took a dozen games to register his first goal last season, added the winner, a clever lob with 10 minutes left on the clock.
The Impact goal had a charmed moment with four minutes remaining when Tajon Buchanan looking certain to score, headed against the upright. Wilfried Zahibo also thought he’d managed to get on the scoresheet just before Urruti’s winner, but VAR intervened, and the Revs went home empty-handed.
Revs coach Bruce Arena conceded his side had been outplayed by Montreal on the day, however he was also at pains to highlight the sub-standard surface provided at Stade Olympique.
When Goals Came...
Montreal Impact .... 2 New England Revolution .... 1
13 - Teal Bunbury (NER)
37 - Romell Quioto (IMFC)
80 - Maxi Urruti (IMFC)
San Jose Earthquakes .... 2 Toronto FC .... 2
40 - Alejandro Pozuelo (TFC)
51 - Richie Laryea (TFC)
53 - Andres Rios (SJE)
90+5 - Oswaldo Alanis (SJE)
Vancouver Whitecaps .... 1 Sporting Kansas City .... 3
17 - Alan Pulido (SKC)
28 - Jake Nerwinski (VWFC)
39 - Gadi Kinda (SKC)
90+5 - Erik Hurtado (VWFC)