Tsubasa Endoh

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Montreal wins Canadian Championship; Toronto woeful in penalties

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The Montreal Impact are going back to the CONCACAF Champions League after overcoming a blown first leg lead to outlast Toronto FC in penalties at BMO Field on Wednesday.

Jozy Altidore missed a penalty, Patrick Mullins saw his saved by Clement Diop, and Jonathan Osorio banged his effort off of the post as Montreal needed just three conversions to win the Voyageurs Cup.

[ MORE: NYCFC moves closer to No. 1 seed ]

The penalties sure do look awful for the three-time defending Canadian champions, who are obviously no longer defending that title.

Ignacio Piatti’s goal in the first leg staked Montreal to a 1-0 lead, but Tsubasa Endoh scored in the 70th minute of the second leg to push this to kicks. Chris Mavinga saw a straight red in the 84th minute for denial of a goal scoring opportunity.

It’s Montreal’s first win since 2014, and it comes in the biggest Canadian Championship yet (13 teams). The Impact’s four titles are now three behind leaders TFC.

Montreal joins Atlanta United and LAFC as MLS clubs to clinch spots in the 2020 CCL. Mexico’s teams are Cruz Azul, UANL Tigres, Club America, and Leon. Jamaica will send Portmore United, six teams will join from the 2019 CONCACAF League, and two more MLS spots will be awarded by the time the MLS Cup playoffs are complete.

MLS Snapshots: Crew SC 4-4 Impact; Toronto FC 1-0 FC Dallas

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): After two months of sputtering out of the starting blocks, Columbus Crew SC are without a doubt back to their old selves following a 4-4 draw with the Montreal Impact at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday. Not only were the Black and Gold a counter-attacking terror through last year’s scorer of 22 goals, Kei Kamara (two goals), but they were an all-too-familiar disaster defensively, shipping a 4-1 lead in favor of the all-fours final scoreline. After the game, Kamara went nuclear on his team and his teammates (and continued and continued) after he was denied the opportunity to complete his first career hat trick from the penalty spot. As for Montreal, the Didier Drogba-Ignacio Piatti partnership is simply delightful and a big reason why L’Impact remain and will continue to reside at or near the top of the Eastern Conference all season long.

[ MORE: Previewing the weekend in MLS ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

16′ — Kamara finishes the alley-oop with ease — At his very best (and with proper service), there’s perhaps no force in MLS more unstoppable than Kamara.

26′ — Piatti curls a beauty far post — Oh. Oh, my.

45+1′ — Kamara powers through Cabrera for 2-1 — See the above comment about Kamara’s physical advantage, again. It’s not just leaping ability, it’s also power and it’s speed as well.

58′ — Piatti dances through the box, cuts it to 4-3 — Piatti is basically a video game at this point. So effortless, and so smooth.

90+3′ — Oduro bags the late equalizer against (one of) his former team(s) — Good for you, Dom Oduro, celebrating a late equalizer like you just don’t care. To be fair, more than a third of the league’s teams are his former teams, so…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Kamara (16′, 45+1′), Piatti (26′, 58′), Higuain (48′, 52′ – PK), Drogba (57′ – PK), Oduro (90+3′)

The game in 100 words (or less): Toronto FC survived their eight-game road trip to start the 2016 season, passing the test with flying colors (11 points from eight games). On Saturday night, the Reds christened the new BMO Field with a home-opening victory over one of the favorites to take the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup this season, FC Dallas. Tsubasa Endoh scored the game’s only goal (assist courtesy of Sebastian Giovinco, but you probably already knew that). As for FCD, that’s three straight losses for Oscar Pareja’s side, dropping the former Western Conference leaders off the top spot. The victory sees TFC move to within a point of Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Impact (who have played a game more, and played at home before this weekend). The East’s road to MLS Cup runs through Canada, no doubt about it.

[ MORE: Previewing the weekend in MLS ]

Three moments that mattered

26′ — Giovinco smashes the crossbar from 30 yards — Giovinco had no business having a go from 30 yards out at such an angle, but then again Giovinco should always have a go no matter where he’s at on the field.

28′ — Endoh takes it down, slots past Gonzalez for 1-0 — Endoh did it all on the game’s opening goal, collecting a brilliant ball over the top from Giovinco and picking his spot inside the far post oh so well.

66′ — Irwin saves Castillo’s one-on-one effort — You’d expect a player of Fabian Castillo’s caliber to put a chance like this away, but Clint Irwin has quietly been on of the best goalkeepers in MLS this season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Michael Bradley

Goalscorers: Endoh (28′)

Five thoughts after Major League Soccer’s flashy Opening Day

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Welcome back Major League Soccer. You were missed.

MLS came back with vigor on Sunday, with 36 goals simultaneously wowing and making us wonder whether defending quality was at an all-time low.

[ READ: MLS Rewind for Week 1 ]

It also allowed us to wonder how wrong some predictions were, and how right others would look in just a few months time.

Let’s say ‘thank you’ for… Fabian Castillo. FC Dallas’ 23-year-old Colombian wizard turned on the jets again for Sunday’s 2-0 win over Philadelphia in Frisco, Texas. Castillo had a goal and put three of his five shots on target, once again showing us that he could play and star in almost any league on Earth… and that’s not exaggeration. Even given that he was playing a young and rebuilding Philadelphia defense featuring two players aged 23 or less, it was electric.

While his status for this weekend’s Texas Derby is up in the air, we’re glad we got an early reminder of how lucky we are to have Castillo on our soil.

during the MLS match at StubHub Center on March 6, 2016 in Carson, California.

Totally saw this coming: Ben Olsen is a heck of a coach, and he’s a good bet to sort out DC United’s problems after the departures of Perry Kitchen and Chris Pontius, but I’m not sure who was betting on his side shutting down the highly-favored Galaxy at the StubHub Center. Los Angeles clobbered DC, 4-1, with Mike Magee turning the screws on the Black-and-Red.

Didn’t see that coming: New England allowed the third-fewest goals in the East last season, while Houston tied with Philadelphia for the fifth-fewest goals scored in MLS.

Of course, there was a 3-3 tie at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday. New England rallied from 2-1 and 3-2 deficits to pick up a point, and Dynamo manager Owen Coyle probably threw something through a window after Daigo Kobayashi zipped inside the Houston defense to head home an equalizer in the 93rd minute. Woof.

Let’s keep an eye on… Tsubasa Endoh, Toronto FC

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The Japanese-born Maryland product was the ninth pick of the 2016 SuperDraft and is frenetic to watch. Keeps the ball on his foot like a magnet and could have the benefit of being next to Jozy Altidore and on the other side of Sebastian Giovinco in the front of TFC’s 4-3-3. He could also absolutely fall down the pecking order, but Greg Vanney is giving him a chance to flourish, and his electricity is present. Might the 5-foot-7 attacker be able to learn a thing or two from Seba?

Can hardly wait for… New York City FC vs. Toronto FC, 5 p.m. ET Sunday

The two sides split last season 1-1-1, but the one I recall most fondly took place on July 12. David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco both tried to own the heart of Yankee Stadium with five of the eight goals scored in a 4-4 draw. Toronto led 3-2 at halftime after Seba had nabbed goals in the 34th, 40th and 43rd minute.

By the time Patrick Mullins scored in the 84th minute, you could’ve convinced us there were still several goals left. Let’s see another like that between two skilled teams on the postage stamp in the Bronx. After NYC thrilled in a 4-3 road win in Chicago, could we see another goalfest at Yankee Stadium.