Back in 2011, I wrote this. It was shortly after the whole 'Support Local Soccer' video came out which I thought tied very nicely into the history of the Voyageurs Cup and why we should all be taking the upcoming V-Cup game against Vancouver just as seriously as a league game. I ended that article with the following paragraphs.
That's why it's important, it's why even in some god-forsaken future when Vancouver and Montreal are playing in the final, that final will still be important, because it's Canadian supporters' national Championship and, literally, Canadian supporters' trophy. Back in 2002, no-one would have imagined that there would soon be 3 Canadian MLS teams, and they'd be fighting to win that trophy and everything it means.
This is what can happen when you support local football.
And now here we are in that very god-forsaken future, so here's me taking it seriously and writing a preview. Tomorrow I'll be watching the game, as I will be for the return leg, probably tweeting bitterly about the whole thing, hoping both sides somehow lose, but staying to the end to see the trophy presented.
Antipathy to both teams aside though, when watching a game, it's always so much better when you want one side to win, and it's almost impossible to remain a neutral. You might not care all that much, but you've got to give at least a small crap about the result to keep watching. So who to be cheering for? I'm sure everyone would have their own theories on that, and I'm sure after that game a fortnight ago at Stade Saputo, there'll be plenty of people wanting to see Montreal get their comeuppance. But Vancouver? You can't really cheer for them to do well either, that'd be just as distasteful.
It's quite the quandary really, but for me there's one factor that outweighs all the others and means I'll be hoping Montreal win, and that's the fact that that result would continue Canadian soccer's best long running gag, that the Vancouver Whitecaps have never won it. After all this time their name still doesn't sully the Voyageurs Cup. I hope it continues, and I hope there's some kind of controversy that leaves Whitecaps fans feeling cheated again, with another chip to put on their already packed shoulders when it comes to this competition. There are very few ways that TFC fans get to laugh at any other club, it'd be a shame to lose this one.
As for the game, it should be a good one, these are clearly the best two teams in the competition this year, justifying their seeding, a lot of the intrigue going into the game will again focus on the lineups that will be put out, just how much emphasis the clubs are putting on winning it all.
I'll not pretend to try and guess what Martin Rennie and Marco Schallibaum are going to do, instead I asked others to do that for me. I asked Sofiane Benzaza of Mount Royal Soccer and Jon Szekeres of Eightysix Forever two questions each.
1) How do you think these games will be approached, full on A team, B team or somewhere in between?
2) How much does this mean to you, the fanbase as a whole, and the club themselves?
Sofiane Benzaza, Mount Royal Soccer
1) With a bye week in MLS coming up for the Montreal Impact, Les Bleus de Montreal could definitively field the strongest possible squad to take advantage of having the 1st leg at home. It is a big advantage for the Impact as the tired legs will not need to be travelling to the West coast after a hard 3-2 win against Real Salt Lake. With 10 days of rest until the next game on May 25th, expect the big guns to play with maybe some changes in the fringe players among the starting XI.
2) Personally, I could do without the extra games especially with the older legs that compose a big chunk of the core of the Montreal Impact. But subjectively, winning games and winning trophies is not something to shy away from, something that the club has always insisted on.
The club has heard its fan base as a whole after what they thought to be a shameful 2-0 loss against Toronto FC in the 1st leg of the Voyageurs Cup semi-final. They made their message heard and read loud and clear during the following game against the Chicago Fire.
The fans, the media, the club and the city would love to get some of that 2008 magic back and why not make it happen in 2013.
Jon Szekeres, Eighty Six Forever
1) Well, Head Coach Martin Rennie came under some well deserved criticism a couple of weeks ago against FC Dallas, when he trotted out a lineup of backups. He was saving his big guns for the Amway first leg against FC Edmonton, a move which was jeered by many, and understood by few. Afterwards, Rennie would make his thought process very clear; when asked how important the Canadian Championship was to the club, Rennie responded that his lineup decisions in Dallas showed how important they thought the competition was. For those reasons and more, I think we'll see a full, strong as possible lineup for the Whitecaps on Wednesday.
2) Fans will all tell you the same thing; they want to bloody win. In my opinion, I see the match as redemption personified; this is the Whitecaps opportunity to avenge their embarrassing loss to Toronto FC last year, and try to take down a very good team in a match where the away team has to be considered the underdog. Montreal has had a solid season so far; the Whitecaps are just beginning their trek from the bottom tier of the Western Conference. If the Whitecaps could win the championship, it would erase all the foul memories of losing to a winless squad last season. Let's hope they can get it done.
Many thanks to both for doing that.
Sounds like both sides want this and will be going for it, so that should lead to a good couple of matches. TFC's hashtag when they were still in it and chasing a 5th straight crown was #MakeItFive. Montreal stomped all over that one of course, on the pitch and on the twitter. Now if only for the sake of a great joke, let's hope they can do the same again, and #KeepItZero.