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Montreal Impact channel past success ahead of Canadian Championship final

Although MLS success has been fleeting, the Impact can book a spot in the Concacaf Champions League by winning the Canadian Championship.

March 2, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush (1) celebrates with defender Victor Cabrera (2) after the match against the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — The last time the Montreal Impact won the Voyageurs Cup the squad was also in turmoil.

In 2014, the Impact finished last in MLS with a 6-18-10 record, but squeaked through FC Edmonton and Toronto FC to win the Canadian Championship. Evan Bush is the only active player remaining from the Impact’s last Voyageurs Cup conquest.

“In 2014, we were going through some really bad moments at that point,” Bush said. “We were able to win the Voyageurs Cup, which got the ball rolling towards the 2015 year where we went to the [Concacaf] Champions League final and then had a good regular season.”

With the Canadian Championship the only path for Canadian clubs to reach the Concacaf Champions League, the Impact made their second big run in the competition. In 2015, Montreal became the second MLS side to reach the final in the tournament’s Champions League era.

Before arriving in Montreal, Bush first heard about the Impact because of the club’s first Champions League run in 2008. The Impact hosted the first leg of a quarterfinal matchup with Liga MX side Santos Laguna. Eddie Sebrango, who is now in the academy’s coaching staff, scored two goals in front of over 55,000 fans at Olympic Stadium.

“I remember being in the second division at that time and hearing about the attendance numbers they were getting in the Olympic Stadium,” Bush said. “Being a part of it in 2015 was probably the best memories that I’ve had on a soccer field.”

Limiting away goals

The Impact have had issues with conceding goals this season. Montreal currently has a -15 goal differential in MLS play and conceded eight goals in four games since Wilmer Cabrera took over as head coach.

Toronto FC had an edge on the Impact this season, outscoring them 4-1 a pair of regular season games. Limiting away goals in the first leg at Stade Saputo will be a crucial task for Montreal.

“It’s one of the key points, definitely,” Jukka Raitala said. “To try to keep the clean sheet would be fantastic. Hopefully we can score at least one goal. It would help a lot, but I think it’s very important to try and not concede goals (Wednesday).”

“The Champions League run that we had went on and the last Canadian Championship we won was in large part due to away goals,” Bush added. “We’re not foreign to that and it’s something we need to be aware of, but also we want to be able to find ways to score goals too.”

Impact owner visits locker room

TSN 690 AM’s Tony Marinaro reported Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo visited the locker room after the 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati Saturday . Samuel Piette and Cabrera confirmed the news in a press conference Monday. 

“It was obviously not there to congratulate us,” Piette said. “He said he was here to set things straight and to say that we’re in difficult times. but that president Kevin Gilmore and the technical staff were behind us. We haven’t thrown the towel.” 

“He’s the owner, he wanted to encourage the players and all of us,” Cabrera added. “He went to the locker room to talk with us and obviously to express himself as an owner and that’s not a problem.” 

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