Well, here we are, a big day in the Canadian soccer calendar as our (yes, dear reader, yours as well) national champions will be crowned, our representatives in the 2013/14 Concacaf Champions League decided. So even though there's no TFC involvement, it still very much merits a preview, however brief, and I'll very much be watching until the Voyageurs Cup is presented. Yes, it will finally be kept in someone else's trophy cabinet after years of residing at BMO Field, for the viewing pleasure of the fancy corporate sponsor types, and for a few nights a year, the increasingly surly mob of the great unwashed TFC fan that bothers to attend the end of year town halls.
The first leg, a couple of weeks back at the house of cheese, ended 0-0, and it was a pretty dull 0-0, but just who does that leave with the advantage? As always in this type of situation, it can be argued both ways, Vancouver would be happy with not losing the away leg, confident they can put it away on the plastic of BC Place. Montreal could be happy with not conceding an away goal, knowing that if they can sneak one, it means a tie of any score is no good at all to the Whitecaps.
Another factor that might help or hinder is that the Whitecaps are coming off a bye week, a 10 day gap that allowed for rest and recuperation, but maybe also develop some rust. Will it be enough for Kenny Miller to be run out there, dodgy hamstring and all? Over at Maple Leaf Forever, Ben Massey says yes, yes it should, even if he's not fully fit, they should be putting everything they have on the line. Whether that will happen, or if there's some other form of first team out there will be very interesting to see.
As for Montreal, fresh off their own 10 day break which ended with their 5-3 hammering of Philadelphia, will they bring all their finest old Italians with them after the likes of Nesta and Di Vaio played all or most of that game. They're clearly a good team in with a chance of making some real noise in the league this year, do they perhaps concentrate on that and give a weaker team the chance to be heroes, with not too much lost if it doesn't happen?
Marco Schallibaum suggests that he's powerless to stop them from going all out to win, they're just that competitive, he just can't use the handbrake. How much of that is mind games and how much is the truth will i guess be revealed later on today.
Before that first leg I wrote this, but SB Nation was having all sorts of technical issues that day so you probably didn't read it no matter how hard you tried (obviously very hard, right dear reader?). I link it here as it explains just why I'll be cheering for Montreal tonight, as well as providing a viewpoint from both Sofiane Benzaza of Mount Royal Soccer and Jonathan Szekeres of Eighty six Forever on what they expected their teams to do and how important it is to them and the fanbases of each club and the clubs themselves.
It was two relatively strong teams that were put out a fortnight ago, and a cursory glance at other websites suggests it should be the same in this game, that both teams will, much to Cathal Kelly's disgust no doubt, be going for the win. A fun stat I saw Ben Massey out out on twitter was that since the format was changed in 2011 to a straight knockout tournament, the higher seed has won every single round, a run that now stands at 8. Can the Whitecaps keep it going, or is that a stat just begging for some regression.
For me, the fact that the Whitecaps have never ever won the Voyageurs cup is a wonderful running gag, the best in Canadian football. If you clicked on the Maple Leaf Forever link from earlier in the article, you'll see just how much Ben wants to win this thing. It's endearing really and almost makes me want to change my mind on that, that it'd be good for Caps fans to finally put that one to sleep. Then you remember that that's Lord Fucking Bob talking so eff that. May he and all the other Whitecap fans have more frustrations and another chip on their shoulder after this game, may Martin Rennie continue keeping Teitur Thordarsen company in the 'never won it and bitter as hell' club.
Then, may Cathal Kelly be right and the CCL adventure kill off the Impact's season as well.