Home MLS Montreal Impact Arnaud’s goal gives Impact an opening-night win in Seattle

Arnaud’s goal gives Impact an opening-night win in Seattle

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The Montreal Impact walked onto the pitch at Seattle’s Century Link Field and, in front of almost 39,000 of the most rabid fans in MLS, handed their hosts a 1-0 defeat, signalling to the rest of the league that the sophomore version of the club might bear very little resemblance to last season’s inaugural edition.

Sustained effort and coherent ensemble play, augmented by more than a little bit of luck allowed the Impact to end the evening three points to the good.

Davy Arnaud, the less-than-universally appreciated team captain got the game’s only goal on a play begun at midfield by Italian forward, Marco Di Vaio. In the 35th minute, the Italian striker got the ball to Felipe and the Brazilian in turn flicked it to Arnaud who sent a right footed shot into the top part of the goal defended by Michael Gspurning.

Taking the initiative at the opening whistle, the Sounders took the game to the visitors with Montreal not playing the ball into enemy territory until 10 minutes had been played.

Eddie Johnson had the first opportunity of the game at the five-minute mark but saw his shot from the edge of the 18-metre box go over Troy Perkins’ net.

The Impact back line, Jeb Brovsky, Matteo Ferrari, Alessandro Nesta and Hassoun Camara bent, buckled but refused to break. The set piece, nemesis last season, was nowhere as expensive a proposition for the Montreal side in the 2013 curtain-raiser. Seattle was awarded nine corner kicks, seven of them in the opening 45 minutes, but all were for naught.

Seattle had its chances, most of them coming courtesy of Johnson, who spent most of the game being served by midfielders Mauro Rosales or Mario Roberto Martinez but was unable to bury the ball.

Lady Luck was either pleased with Impact goalkeeper, Perkins, or awful ticked off at Johnson. The 28-year-old forward got in close at about the quarter-hour mark, only to be smothered by Hassoun Camara. In the 25th minute Martinez connected with Johnson and the former Fulham forward’s shot from just outside the six-metre missed to the left of the Montreal goal. A Justin Mapp miscue in the 29th led to a Johnson shot from the top of the 18-metre box but it was handled by Perkins.

If the goals at Century Link Field were a few centimetres wider and a couple taller, the outcome of the game could well have been different. Seattle twice bounced the ball off the woodwork. Midfielder Brad Evans hit the upright to the left of Perkins in the 66th and Johnson struck the horizontal bar in the 81st minute.

Arnaud came within inches of scoring a second time in the 64th minute with a diving header, but was unable to redirect Sanna Nyassi‘s pass into the net.

Seattle continued to press and threatened to tie things up almost until the final whistle. Its ninth and final corner kick came a minute and a half into added time and was punched clear by Perkins. Dangerous to the very end, the Sounders final chance at a draw came a mere 30 seconds from the end of play as Martinez sent the ball towards the Montreal net intending but failing to connect with Samuel Ochoa as the midfielder slid through the six-metre box.

Montreal may have left the pitch with a victory to begin the season but at least a couple players did not escape unscathed. Goalkeeper Perkins will probably have some swelling above his right eye, the result of a collision with Ferrari, while Camara, who stopped a point blank Evans drive with in the 72nd minute and left the game 10 minutes later, will probably experience some discomfort for a couple days.

The Impact will remain in Cascadia for the week, visiting Portland next Saturday and opening the home half of its 2013 schedule on March 16 when it hosts Toronto.

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