Smits will get chance for stardom

The Montreal Impact's chances of lifting the Concacaf Champions League might rest with a goalkeeper who almost kept it out of the tournament in the first place. With star keeper Evan Bush suspended and his backups unavailable, Montreal will need to start 26-year-old Canadian John Smits, who has been shuttling back and forth on loan from FC Edmonton.

The Impact has appealed Bush's yellow card, his second of the competition, in the 89th minute of its 1-1 tie at Club America that went unnoticed by most observers. The Impact press release did not even include it in the game summary.

The Impact's problems in goal stem from the fact that No. 2 keeper Eric Kronberg is cup-tied, having played in the group stage for Sporting KC, and No. 3 keeper Maxim Crepeau is sidelined with a shoulder injury.

It had brought in Indy Eleven's German keeper, Kristian Nicht, on loan for the Pachuca quarterfinal series. Smits, was brought in on loan for the semifinal series against Alajuelense and then re-acquired on loan after the Impact advanced to the final.

Concacaf regulations allow teams to submit one roster for the group stage and a second for the knockout stage and add players during each stage, based on their federation's transfer rules, as long as the rosters don't exceed 30 players.

The irony is that Smits was in goal last year when Montreal beat FC Edmonton en route to its Amway Canadian Championship title that qualified it for the Concacaf Champions League as the Canadian representative.

The Eddies were seconds away from eliminating Montreal but a penalty kick converted by Patrice Bernier in the seventh minute of stoppage time rescued Montreal. The goal gave the Impact a 5-4 win on aggregate. Otherwise, FC Edmonton would have advanced via away goals.

With Smits in Mexico City on Wednesday, FC Edmonton began the new Canadian club championship with a 3-1 win over NASL rival Ottawa.
1 comment about "Smits will get chance for stardom".
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