Vancouver Whitecaps muscle through to Canadian Championship final


Vancouver Whitecaps' Kei Kamara, back centre, celebrates his penalty kick goal against the Montreal Impact during second half semifinal Canadian Championship soccer action in Vancouver on Wednesday July 25, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

VANCOUVER — Russell Teibert believes a trip to the Canadian Championship finals may be just what the Vancouver Whitecaps need to turn their season around.

The Whitecaps put up a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact in Vancouver on Wednesday, giving them the edge in the tournament’s two-leg semifinal with an aggregate score of 2-1.

The Impact won the first half of the series 1-0 in Montreal last week.

Vancouver has been in a slump lately, losing five of their previous six matches, and are currently sitting outside of a playoff position in the MLS western conference.

Teibert said earning their way in to the Championship’s finals will swing the momentum.

“We’re going to build off this performance and take it into our regular season and as well with the Canadian Championship,” he said. “We really want to win that trophy because we do want to be the champs of Canada.”

Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson said his players showed character in the win with a “very professional, organized, disciplined” performance.

“The reason why we’re inconsistent sometimes is because we don’t perform to our levels,” he said. “When they perform to their levels, no matter who you play against, you can get results. And I think we showed how good we can be against a very, very good team.”

The Whitecaps opened the scoring in the 19th minute of Wednesday’s game after defender Jake Nerwinski waltzed into the attacking zone and got a pass off to forward Yordy Reyna, who rocketed the ball into the back of the net.

“Honestly, it wasn’t that great of a ball, but Yordy made it look that good. So it was a good finish,” said Nerwinski.

The second goal came off a penalty kick by striker Kei Kamara in the 60th minute.

Vancouver controlled much of the action, putting up 14 shots while the Impact registered six.

Montreal coach Remi Garde said his team struggled to capitalize on its opportunities to score.

Defender Michael Petrasso added that the Impact was able to muster more offence in the first leg of the series

“We only needed one goal (on Wednesday) to make it very difficult for them. And I think we found it very difficult to kind of move up the pitch. Obviously, they came out strong and they kind of kept us in our own half,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t find the net to make it more difficult for them.”

Some of Montreal’s young players got an opportunity to get on the field in the tournament, as Garde rotated the team during a gruelling spell of seven games in 22 days.

The coach said he saw progress from the burgeoning athletes, including midfielder Shamit Shome, who’s only played in five league games this year but started Wednesday.

“Of course, they are not here to grow as individuals, we are here to win as a team. But we have to see some positive stuff inside this unfortunate defeat,” Garde said.

The Whitecaps have also been going through a punishing stretch of five games in 15 days. They’ll be back on the field in Vancouver on Saturday for an MLS game against Minnesota United.

Vancouver has only won the Canadian Championship once in 2015. Montreal has taken home the title three times since the competition began in 2008 and Toronto FC has won six times.

Toronto punched their ticket through to the final earlier Wednesday with a 3-0 (4-0 on aggregate) over the Ottawa Fury. The team will be gunning for their third-straight title this year.

The final games are set for Aug. 8 and 15.

NOTES: Whitecaps midfielder Russell Teibert is the all-time leader in Canadian Championship appearances … A crowd of 19,267 took in the game at B.C. Place … Four yellow cards were handed out during the match — Whitecaps Kendall Waston and Doneil Henry, and the Impact’s Simon Piette were all clocked for unsporting behaviour, while Montreal’s Alejandro Silva was disciplined for an arguing.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.