TORONTO – The wait is nearly over.
York9 FC will face the Montreal Impact in the second leg of their Canadian Championship Qualifying Round 3 series on Wednesday night at Stade Saputo.
“Everyone is excited,” said Ryan Telfer. “They’ve been waiting for the second leg since the first one. We’ve been going after every game since that time, focusing on the league games, and finally the cup game is upon us.
“Everyone is excited to prove a point after that first leg. We want to surprise a lot of people, that’s what everyone is looking forward to.”
Having drawn 2-2 in that first meeting on July 10, the Nine Stripes are eager to overcome the away-goal advantage that the Impact took from leg one.
“We know what Montreal is capable of and we know what we’re capable of as well,” said Telfer. “We know we have the ability to bring it to them, be cautious at the same time because we know how good they are.
“The focus is just to keep doing what we’ve been doing, push the envelope to them and try to get a result out of it.”
A two-game winning streak in Canadian Premier League play with victories over FC Edmonton and Pacific FC was halted on Sunday with York falling 1-0 away to Spring champions Cavalry FC, themselves anticipating a thrilling second leg of their own when they visit Vancouver Whitecaps FC that same night.
Both sides will have taken confidence from going toe-to-toe with an MLS side.
“The only lesson – and what everyone else found out – was that CPL can hold its ground against MLS teams,” noted Telfer. “Every (player) knew their ability and how they match up against that level, it didn’t come as a surprise, but it woke up something in some of those guys who went up against people whose talent they thought exceeded theirs.
“Knowing (that) has given much more confidence in their ability to play. That’s the one thing that most guys took out of it: they’re ready to bump heads with some of the best.”
They now get to bring those talents to the biggest stage with the matches to be played at Stade Saputo and BC Place – HFX Wanderers FC, who lost 3-2 to Ottawa Fury FC in their first leg, will travel to the nation’s capital for a date at TD Place Stadium in Lansdowne Park, a match set to kickoff simultaneously with York’s in Montreal.
“It’s going to be a great experience for the guys,” said York9 coach Jimmy Brennan. “They’ve got a great atmosphere; it’s a nice stadium, compact, the fans are right on top of you. These are the moments as a footballer you cherish, the matches you want to play in.
“More than anything I’m excited for these guys to showcase what they’ve got and put on a great show.”
Telfer has played there before, but for some of his teammates it will be the largest platform upon which they will have had the chance to perform.
“It will be a bigger stage for some these guys,” allowed Telfer. “They’re looking forward to it, looking forward to the chance to touch the field. It’s a big opportunity for them, looking forward to what Saputo has in store for them.
“When I’ve been there the atmosphere has been excellent, support-wise, the grass has been phenomenal also. Even I’m looking forward to it.”
Crucial to their aims of moving on to a date with the winner of the Vancouver-Cavalry series will be the elimination of errors. Both Montreal goals were gifts from plays York wishes they had back.
“That’s how football is. Sometimes it’s that one lapse of concentration that could give the other team the upper hand. Playing Montreal, we made two slip-ups and they took opportunity with both hands,” recalled Telfer. “It could be the same come Wednesday: if Montreal were to slip up, we could be granted an opportunity and we will be able to take that opportunity.
“That’s how the game of soccer is: mistakes do happen, no one is perfect, it’s what you can do when that opportunity arises.”
And as for that dreaded bell that celebrates Impact goals?
Said Telfer: “Hopefully it won’t be ringing any time soon.”