Toronto Eliminates Montreal From NCC

Only Vancouver can keep the Reds from repeating in 2010

Dwayne De Rosario's second-half strike put Toronto in the driver’s seat of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship with a 1-0 road win over the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium on Wednesday.

The loss for the MLS-bound Impact ended their bid to win this year’s edition of the three-team tournament, which also serves as a qualifier for the CONCACAF Champions League club competition.

Tight marking and some hard tackling set the tone in the opening half with neither team generating much in the way of attack.

Montreal defender David Testo was called for two hard fouls on De Rosario in the first 20 minutes, while Toronto defender Maxim Usanov earned the game’s first yellow card after hauling down midfielder Rocco Placentino in the 14th minute.

The Impact were without three key players on Wednesday due to suspension as forwards Roberto Brown and Reda Agourram, as well as defender Adam Braz, all missed the match after receiving red cards in the opening two matches of the tournament.

Their absences contributed to both coaches' tactical strategy before the opening whistle as Montreal boss Marc Dos Santos elected to start the match with six midfielders in a 3-6-1 formation, with lone striker Peter Byers going it on his own up front. Toronto head coach Preki countered with a 3-5-2 formation.

But the midfield stalemate appeared to open up early in the second half as Montreal added Placentino into the attack. Both goalkeepers were forced to make some sensational saves.

Montreal 'keeper Matt Jordan looked sharp on long distance blasts from halftime substitute Chad Barrett and O’Brian White's resulting rebound in the 47th minute. He also stopped De Rosario's fierce blast in the 60th minute.

Soon after, Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei was called upon to break up a dangerous through-ball from Montreal striker Peter Byers to Placentino.

But minutes later, De Rosario dealt Montreal their final blow after Barrett had hit a hard shot toward goal in the 74th minute. Barrett’s blast was stopped, but an onrushing De Rosario tapped the rebound across the goal line to give Toronto a crucial win and six points from two matches. The strike was De Rosario's fifth career goal of the tournament.

Toronto play their next game of the tournament on May 19 at the Vancouver Whitecaps. Montreal then host the Whitecaps on May 26, with the tournament wrapping up at BMO Field June 2 when Toronto host Vancouver.

Vancouver and Montreal are both deadlocked with one point each after their 1-1 draw last Wednesday. However, the Whitecaps still have a chance to win the three-year-old tournament for the first time.

The Impact have yet to beat Toronto in six meetings. Toronto holds an all-time 5-0-1 record over their Canadian rivals, outscoring them 12-2.

MLS commissioner Don Garber was on hand in Montreal last week to announce Montreal as the league’s 19th franchise. Montreal will become Canada’s third MLS team, with Vancouver joining the league next year.