[NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP]Soccer fever has swept Canada as evidenced by Wednesday's crowd of almost 20,000 that watched Toronto FC defeat the Montreal Impact, 1-0, in a Nutrilite Canadian Championship match at BMO Field. The win gives TFC two wins in the competition to determine Canada's representative in the CONCACAF Champions League. The evening wasn't entirely positive for the MLS club, though. Marvell Wynne left the game with a hamstring injury in the 16th minute.
A great strike by Chad Barrett, who came into the match as an emergency sub for the injured Wynne, gave TFC the win.
Barrett latched onto a crossfield ball from captain Jim Brennan and juggled it up into the air to smash a fierce volley from about 25 yards out past Impact keeper Matt Jordan in the 35th minute. Toronto hit the woodwork on three other occasions to extend a rough start to the season for Montreal, which reached the quarterfinals of the 2008-09 Concacaf Champions League as Canada's representative, but is winless in USL-1 league play (0-4-1) this season.
The winner of the three-team, double round-robin competition will qualify for the 2009-10 CCL tournament that begins group play this summer.
Shots by midfielder Sam Cronin and forward Dwayne DeRosario struck the same upright prior to Barrett's goal, and early in the second half defender Marco Velez drilled a downward header that got past Jordan but rebounded off the goalpost.
Outshot by TFC 10-1 in the first half, Montreal had occasional threats that came on the counter. David Testo fired high from outside the box and Rocco Placentino managed to put a ball into the net that was disallowed for offside.
Not until midway through the second half did Montreal manage a shot on goal. Joey Gjersten fired a shot that didn't trouble Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei. The Impact stepped up its pressure but suffered a setback when a hard foul by Testo on Cronin removed him from the match with a second caution.
Barrett squandered a great chance to salt away the victory in the final minutes when put through on a clean breakaway, but Jordan dove at his feet to knock the ball loose, and a follow-up shot by Pablo Vittisailed wide of the post.
Both teams will play Vancouver in their next Nutrilite matches. Montreal hosts the Whitecaps -- which lost to TFC last week, 1-0, to kick off the Nutrilite series -- next Wednesday at Saputo Stadium. TFC plays the 'Caps at Swangard Stadium June 2.
May 13 in Toronto
Montreal 1 Toronto FC 0.Goal: Barrett (Brennan) 35
Toronto FC --Frei, Wynne (Barrett 16), Serioux, Velez, Brennan, Cronin, Guevara (Ibrahim 88), Robinson, Attakora-Gyan, Vitti, De Rosario (Harmse 74).
Montreal --Jordan, Joqueviel, Braz, Pizzolitto, Sakuda (Sebrango 63), Gjersten Brilliant 72), Grande, Testo, Placentino, Atte-oudeyi, Brown (Gatti 75).
Red card:Montreal -- Testo 71.