You can just imagine it now. Greg Vanney gets on the phone to his secret agent sat in the BC Place locker-room as the second-half in Vancouver begins. “Well done Agent Rudy. You did a great job. Mission accomplished. Now get yourself home. Over and out!”
This one really had to be seen to be believed. Rudy Camacho’s moment of madness, not equalled even by his horrendous dead-ball free-kick in the dying moments recently against Toronto FC, was simply inexplicable.
You simply have to wonder what went through his head.
In one moment, two if you include the Toronto debacle, the French defender ensured his team-mates would face the stiffest of uphill battles attempting to retain their Canadian Championship, never mind the three MLS points up for grabs.
For sure, despicable embellishment by Fredy Montero which went unpunished, helped the referee make his mind up to produce red, but Camacho’s reaction to Montero’s presence in the first place was as irresponsible as it was foolhardy.
Drew Fisher, the ref didn’t cover himself in glory either, missing the late tackle by Dajome on Camacho that set the sequence in motion. There should have been a free-kick to Montreal. Had that happened, conceivably nothing else would, but it still doesn’t excuse Camacho.
So, a straight red card for Camacho and a penalty to Vancouver. Insult was added to injury when one of the villains, Montero stepped up to beat Diop from the spot.
Two minutes later Vancouver doubled their advantage. Montero and Milinkovic combined well on the right, the latter picking out Dajome moving forward unchecked. Bair was on, over to the right, but played decoy as the Colombian let fly and beat Diop from 20 yards.
Montreal’s grip on the Voyageurs Cup had been well and truly loosened.
Up until the game’s defining moment the Impact looked comfortable and patient as the ‘Caps, in contrast to the previous meeting sat deep. Indeed it was the visitors who looked the more likely with a couple of Okwonkwo shots troubling Hasal, and a Binks header off a cross from the excellent Taider which slipped wide.
But for Camacho’s 41st minute fit of lunacy, the teams would have departed for half-time scoreless, Henry would have been the happier of the two coaches.
But what happened changed everything and no doubt in Toronto they were rubbing hands gleefully. The Impact needed three second-half goals and they had to do it playing with a man less.
If there was a positive to Montreal’s evening it was their second-half response, and although Quioto swivelled inside the box to blast past Hasal to half the arrears with twenty mins still to play, the risk of getting caught on the counter always remained. Montero underlined this with the ‘goodnight’ goal on 78 mins and Impact’s Canadian crown was gone.
From a position of promise it became a tough end for the group. Last Sunday’s positive result in Vancouver would have confirmed a Canadian Championship final place had Camacho’s wild error not set up Toronto for a last minute winner in the game previous, and now the same player’s thoughtless indiscretion had undone his team again after they’d brilliantly hauled themselves back into Championship contention.
Impact coach Thierry Henry graciously congratulated Vancouver on their win, but couldn’t completely disguise his mood post-game...
“We’re going to have to deal internally with what happened. Obviously it had a big impact on the game. How he was sent-off we’re going to deal with it, we’re going to talk about it.
“Obviously, we lost the game against Toronto a certain way, we lost the game today I think in a certain way.”
Would the Impact have won it had eleven players remained attached to the cause on the pitch?
“You can never tell,” said Henry.
“I just thought even with ten men in the second-half we imposed our game. Obviously you are more exposed to counters. But you can never tell.
“You have to congratulate Vancouver. They have won, and the ifs and buts don’t take away what they did tonight. It’s difficult to say if we were going to win or not.”
VWFC - Hasal - Nerwinski, Veselinovic, Cornelius, Gutierrez - Bikel (Baldisimo, 46), Teibert - Bair (Owusu, 62), Milinkovic (Adnan, 73), Dajome (Reyna, 89) - Montero (Ricketts, 89)
Bench (unused subs) - Meredith, Rose, Godoy, Raposo
IMFC - Diop - Brault-Guillard, Camacho, Binks, Raitala - Wanyama, Shome (Fanni, 43) - Piette (Bojan, 78), Taider, Okwonkwo (Lappalainen, 79) - Quioto
Bench - Bush, Sejdic, Waterman, Yao, Corrales, Bayiha
Match Officials -
Referee - Drew Fisher
Asst Refs - Michael Barwegen, Chantal Boudreau
4th Official - Alain Ruch
VAR - David Gantar