It was February 25, 2009. With a camera in my hand, I was standing just behind the touch line, just a few feet away from Montreal Impact keeper Matt Jordan. I was at Olympic Stadium, deafened by the roars coming from the 55,571 fans who had come to see the Impact take on Santos Laguna in the first game of their CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final.
I had decided to camp behind Jordan because I assumed the Mexican giants would be storming the Impact goal. Bad idea. Three minutes and change into the game, Sebrango struck a half volley that beat Santos keeper Oswaldo Sanchez inside the left post.
Or was it his goal? Sebrango maintained he shouldn’t have got credit.
“Their defender kicked the ball in, it was an own goal,” he said.
Sebrango scored again in the second half, as a long, looping ball was deflected home by him after Sanchez waved at it, and missed.
The 2-0 win was the Impact’s finest hour as a franchise. It reignited conversations between Impact owner Joey Saputo and MLS commissioner Don Garber that would bring Montreal to the big league, a move it will make in 2012.
We all know how badly the story ended for Montreal, giving up two-injury time goals in Mexico to blow what looked like an insurmountable lead. Sebrango scored in the road leg, too.
Still, Sebrango, who had a fantastic Div. 2 career in Montreal and Vancouver, needs to take some credit for the goals in the game that did more to define the Impact franchise than any other in the club’s history.
“It’s a very sad moment for me because I felt this day would never come,” said Sebrango in a release issued Monday by the Impact. “It’s a difficult decision for me because I still have the passion and energy to play and live the life of a pro player. I have been very lucky to have played all these years and to leave my sport with my health and with the respect of my peers. I would like to thank Joey Saputo, his family, and the entire Impact organization who gave me the opportunity to make a career by playing the game I love. I would also like to thank the Whitecaps organization, all my coaches and teammates, my parents, my family, as well as my children Gabriella and Donovan.”
Sebrango will now work in the Impact Academy, working with the forwards and as an assistant with the U-16 team.
Sebrango, with 45 goals on his Impact resume, retires as the club’s second-leading scorer.
He played for the Whitecaps in 1999 and 2006-2008, and also made stops in Rochester and Hershey. His 98 goals make him the second all-time scorer in the history of North American Div-2 soccer.