NEWS
08/11/2015 13:15 EDT | Updated 08/11/2016 01:12 EDT

Impact, Whitecaps each have reasons to want Amway Canadian Championship

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps have different reasons for wanting to win the Amway Canadian Championship, and the Voyageurs Cup that goes with it.

The Impact are looking for another crack at the CONCACAF Champions League, where they went on a thrilling run to the final in April.

The Whitecaps just want to win the Cup for once after seeing either Montreal or Toronto FC take it every year since it was inaugurated in 2002.

"Toronto and Montreal have been winning, so for us this is the first stop in making history," defender Pa-Modou Kah told the Whitecaps website.

The two-game aggregate goals final begins Wednesday night at Saputo Stadium, with the second leg Aug. 26 at B.C. Place.

Montreal reached the final with a victory on the away goals rule over Toronto in the semifinals in May, when Dominic Oduro's late score was the difference.

Vancouver needed a dramatic stoppage time marker from Matias Laba to defeat NASL club FC Edmonton 3-2 on aggregate in the other semifinal.

The winner between Montreal and Vancouver advances to the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League.

That will mark the return to the usual qualifying method, where the Voyageurs Cup champ qualifies for CONCACAF play. Montreal won the 2014 Voyageurs Cup, but a one-time format change gave Vancouver the Champions League berth because it was the top Canadian team in MLS last season.

The Whitecaps opened Champions League group stage play last week with a 1-1 draw at home against the Seattle Sounders.

It is a busy time for Vancouver, which has won its last three MLS matches and is coming off a 4-0 romp over Salt Lake on Saturday.

The Impact have also had a busy league schedule, including a 1-0 loss at home Saturday despite outshooting D.C. United 25-1. But after the Vancouver game, they are off until they face Philadelphia on Aug. 22.

What the lineups will look like is unknown. Normally, teams play mostly reserves in the away leg and field more of their regular starters at home.

Montreal may use its top central defender Laurent Ciman, who missed the D.C. game with a suspension.

And crafty winger Justin Mapp, out since the opening game of the regular season with an elbow injury, was pronounced fit to play by coach Frank Klopas.

Captain Patrice Bernier, who spent a few days away from the team to cool off a controversy over his wife's criticizing Klopas on Facebook for not using him, was back at training Monday and would be a logical selection in the midfield. 

The Impact are expected to hold off newly signed star Didier Drogba's debut so he will be fully fit when league play resumes, but will Klopas be tempted to slip him in off the bench if he needs a goal?

Vancouver coach Carl Robinson only said that he will have lineup changes from the 11 that started against Salt Lake.

The Voyageurs Cup was first awarded in 2002. Montreal won it the first seven times and Toronto the next four. The Impact have taken the last two.

Players still remember the high of a dramatic win over Pachuca of Mexico in the Champions League semifinals at Olympic Stadium on a last-second goal by rookie Cameron Porter, an unexpected win over Alajuelense of Costa Rica in the semifinals and giving Mexican powerhouse Club America a good run in the final.     

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press