For 95 minutes, the Montreal Impact and FC Edmonton staged a thrilling Amway Canadian Championship match, one that showed those cynical about cup competitions that there is indeed some magic to these midweek games.
But, in the end, no one will be talking about the 95-plus minutes. They’ll be talking what happened in the last minute of stoppage time. They’ll be talking about referee Drew Fischer. Because, in the end, he was the story.
The situation: The Impact led the Eddies 3-2 in the second leg of their semi-final matchup. But, the aggregate was at 4-4, with the Eddies ahead on the away-goal rule. Six minutes of time were added on, as the Eddies were certainly milking a few, ahem, injuries down the final 20 minutes.
A free kick was played into the Eddies’ box, it was deflected by Impact defender Heath Pearce, about a couple of feet away from FCE centre back Mallan Roberts. Fearing a handball call, Roberts had his hands behind his back. The ball hit Roberts on the shoulder/upper arm, and Fischer decided to point to the spot. Did Roberts try to play the ball with his arm? He had his hands behind his back. Could he had avoided a ball that was deflected by Pearce a couple of feet away.
Patrice Bernier buried the penalty kick. And, the cameras showed a full Eddies team accosting the refs after the game in a way that reminded you of that time after the 2007 Gold Cup, when the Canadians had a winning goal at the death waved off for a phantom offside call — and the Americans got through. Finally, we saw FCE coach Colin Miller and Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo trading heated words. After the game, Miller joked that he wished Saputo a ”Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
“The guys in the dressing room are broken-hearted,” Miller said over the phone after the match. “We knew we deserved better from the game. We are devastated. The players are devastated and the technical staff are devastated. I feel so bad for our fans and our owner.
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