Canadian Championship Semi-Finals Leg Two Preview
Tonight, four Canadian teams will find themselves 90 minutes away from securing a spot in the Canadian Championship final. The aggregate going into the second leg of the semi-finals puts the advantage on the two remaining Major League Soccer clubs, though both Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC and the USL-based Ottawa Fury are no stranger to upsets.
Let’s take a look at what fans can expect to see tonight in Canadian Championship action:
Cavalry FC vs Montreal Impact (1-2 aggregate)
After knocking out the Vancouver Whitecaps in the quarter-finals, Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s Cavalry FC now finds itself with its back against the wall at Spruce Meadows after falling to a 2-1 away defeat against Montreal Impact in the first leg. Still, a crucial away goal from Sergio Camargo has given the Calgary-based club a lifeline: scoring once at home tonight would change the shape of the game entirely.
The Montreal Impact fielded a respectful starting eleven at Stade Saputo, but injuries have forced the club to travel without key Argentinian playmaker Ignacio Piatti for the second leg. That being said, Cavalry FC will also be without captain Nik Ledgerwood, who was sent off in the first leg for collecting a second yellow.
The CPL spring season winners fielded a rotated squad on Saturday against the Halifax Wanderers, suggesting that Tommy Wheeldon Jr. is ready to give the Canadian Championship everything he’s got. Cavalry FC has a knack for finding a way to win, and doing so tonight would give the CPL club what may be its most-important win yet.
Impact boss Remi Garde is well-aware of the resolve his opponents have shown before, and will have also heard how difficult it can be to play at Spruce Meadows. He’s ready for a cagey game:
We know our task won’t be easy, but we’re there to defend our ticket to the final. I think it’ll be a different game than the one in Montreal. Conditions are much different where they play, but we must adapt. We’ll need to rival them on a footballing level, but also in terms of character, to win this game.Remi Garde
Toronto FC vs Ottawa Fury (2-0 aggregate)
Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney fielded a heavily rotated roster in the first leg, which prompted speculation that a high-flying Ottawa Fury might be able to put together an upset. The home side fell 2-0 in the first leg, with goals from Drew Moor and Tsubasa Endoh ensuring that the Reds returned to BMO Field with a healthy goal cushion.
That means the Fury has it all to do, but head coach Nikola Popovic still believes his club can make it to the finals. Ottawa Fury came close to scoring on multiple occasions in the first leg, most notably with two freekicks from captain Carl Haworth going just wide. Popovic says being a bit more clinical in front of goal could prove all the difference:
We have to see goals. If we want to make it to the final, we have to score at least two goals. So we have to have this mindset that it’s possible. We are going to believe that if we bring the same performance, but now instead of missing the shots and missing the opportunities we are able to create, we are able to put the ball in the net, I think we can be in the final.
While the upcoming Toronto FC lineup is still very much a mystery, one thing is certain: Alex Bono will be between the sticks for Toronto FC for the duration of the club’s run in the Voyageurs Cup. After losing his starting spot to Quentin Westberg in league action, it’s fair to say that Bono will be highly motivated to impress.
While the first legs played simultaneously last week, this time around fans can watch them one after another: Toronto FC kicks off against the Ottawa Fury at 7:30PM EST, while Cavalry FC’s do-or-die match against Montreal Impact will kick off at 9:30PM EST. Both matches are available exclusively on OneSoccer.