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Montreal Impact top Toronto FC in first leg of Canadian Championship

Ignacio Piatti’s 17th minute goal was enough to separate the Impact from Toronto FC.

Sep 18, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (10) reacts after scoring a goal against the Toronto FC during the first half in the Canadian Championship final at Stade Saputo. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — Jukka Raitala said that he wanted a goal and a clean sheet in the first leg of the Canadian Championship final. Wednesday night at Stade Saputo, the Montreal Impact defender got exactly what he wished for.

The Impact took a 1-0 lead over Toronto FC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship final. After being outscored 4-1 in the MLS season series, the Impact defended their house against their rivals.

“It was really important for us,” Montreal head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “It was a big load that we were carrying on our shoulders after two loses at home. Nobody likes that, we didn’t like it and we were feeling really bad about it.”

The Impact opened the scoring on a screamer at the 17th minute. Ignacio Piatti found himself with more than enough space 30 yards away to strike the ball in the upper left corner. The Argentine’s goal broke a 250-minute long goalless streak for the Impact.

“We scored after a few games and that is very positive,” Cabrera said. “That gives us the possibility to believe and to continue believing in what we’re doing and that we can go to Los Angeles and fight for the MLS playoffs.”

Toronto head coach Greg Vanney altered his lineup at halftime by substituting in Alejandro Pozuelo and Jozy Altidore for Erickson Gallardo and Patrick Mullins. The Reds put pressure on the Impact’s back-line, but Montreal kept its composure to secure the clean sheet. Cabrera attributed his team’s defensive success to limiting mistakes.

“We didn’t make too many silly mistakes because we were doing them at home and you cannot make that,” he said. “The guys were solid in just cutting off those mistakes. You put pressure on yourself, you motivate the opponent and in a final you cannot do that.”

“We were in a very complicated situation and we knew that we had an opportunity in front of us with the Canadian Championship,” Impact midfielder Samuel Piette said. “To bounce back in the first leg, to show that we didn’t throw the towel, and I think we did that over 90 minutes.”

No charter flights for LA Galaxy match

The Impact now shift their focus back to MLS play with a long distance away game against the LA Galaxy. Cabrera confirmed that the club wasn’t able to find a charter flight to make it to Dignity Health Sports Park and will need to take a commercial flight.

“The club tried to find a charter but the problem is with the situation with the air crafts,” Cabrera said. “The 737’s, a lot of those companies are giving their air crafts to other companies, so we only had small planes. If you charter small planes you’re going to spend more time going to different places so it wasn’t worth it.”

With both Bojan Krkic and Maxi Urruti going down on injury, Cabrera admitted that he will need to change his plans. Piatti, who was not scheduled to fly to California, is now in the plans to make the trip.

“That’s the thing the game brings. You have to deal with that,” Cabrera said. “ We’re going to try to manage in the best way possible, but that’s the game.”

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