From the 2014 Voyageurs Cup semifinal: FC Edmonton’s Ritchie Jones challenges’ the Impact’s Patrice Bernier. The Impact came within seconds of being eliminated by the Eddies.
More often than not, when a team goes on a run towards a championship or trophy, there is one hurdle along the way that it clears by the thinnest of margins.
There’s the FA Cup winner who was taken to a replay by a lower-division side in the fourth round. There’s the NCAA basketball champion who needed a buzzer beater or overtime to beat a low seed in mid-March. We can talk all we want about the late interception that earned the New England Patriots the Super Bowl, or the Deflategate that preceded it, but the truth is that, in their first playoff game of 2015, the Pats needed to make a major comeback effort to knock off the Baltimore Ravens.
So, when you recall Tuesday night’s epic CONCACAF Champions League semifinal second-leg match between the Montreal Impact and Alajuelense — a nail-biter of a game in Costa Rica that saw the Impact “lose” 4-2 but hang on for a 4-4 aggregate score, with the edge being away goals — you should also stop and think back 11 months.
No one at Clarke Stadium or Stade Saputo threw shoes on to the pitch as the Alajuelense supporters did in Costa Rica on Tuesday. But this Impact team may very well have been defined by the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal back in May of 2014.
At the Impact’s very first hurdle, it was seconds away from being eliminated. Remember that the aggregate score between FC Edmonton was 4-4 as the clock went past the 90th minute in the second leg. Yup, 4-4, like the series with Alajuelense, but it was FC Edmonton who held the advantage on road goals. Six minutes of time was added; and, in minute six of that added time, referee Drew Fischer judged that FC Edmonton’s Mallan Roberts had handled the ball in the box, even though the Eddies defender had put his arms behind his back. Patrice Bernier buried the last-gasp penalty, and the Impact had just survived.
This column isn’t going to pick at scabs and re-examine if Fischer’s call was the correct one or not. A lot of ink and/or disk space was spent on that 11 months ago.
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