The Vancouver Whitecaps got early bragging rights Friday on Major League Soccer rivals Montreal Impact with a 3-0 win over the expansion side in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic tournament in Orlando, Fla.
It was the first time the two longtime rivals have met as MLS teams and they play each other again on March 10 when they open the 2012 MLS season at BC Place in Vancouver.
The Whitecaps took the lead in the 38th minute when centre back Martin Bonjour intercepted the ball, made a run down the right side and sent a pass to Eric Hassli near the top of the Impact box. The huge Frenchman calmly first-timed a low, well-placed shot with his left foot to beat Montreal goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Vancouver ‘keeper Joe Cannon kept the game scoreless earlier in the half with awkward but effective foot saves on close-in chances from Davy Arnaud and then ageless wonder Eddie Sebrango on the rebound.
Caps’ speedy first-round SuperDraft pick Darren Mattocks made it 2-0 in the 69th minute with a great left-footed strike over Ricketts from inside the box. Sebastian Le Toux set up the play with a clever pass to the streaking Mattocks.
Le Toux completed the scoring late in the game after burying a penalty kick awarded after Vancouver forward Long Tan was brought down in the Montreal penalty area.
Vancouver enjoyed much of the possession in a match that had a lot of emotion for a pre-season contest.
The two clubs’ historic and bitterly contested rivalry threatened to get physical late in the first half after Caps winger Camilo Sanvezzo made a late tackle on Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier. Hassli, Sanvezzo and Arnaud all received yellow cards on the play and the ensuing shoving match.
Whitecaps midfielders Davide Chiumiento and John Thorrington left the game in the first half after apparently suffering injuries.
The Impact play Sporting Kansas City at 3 p.m. Sunday and the Houston Dynamo at 8 p.m. Wednesday to finish off its preseason. It opens its first MLS season March 10 at Vancouver before its first home game March 17 against the Chicago Fire at Olympic Stadium.
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