Home MLS Montreal Impact Barbara continues his push for MLS attention with two-goal performance against Impact

Barbara continues his push for MLS attention with two-goal performance against Impact

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Montreal’s sporting rivalries tend to have a geopolitical component, but the animosity between the Impact and the Carolina RailHawks is purely a soccer affair. Both teams in this afternoon’s contest had good reason to expect positive outcomes.

League-leading Carolina was unbeaten in its last five games while the host side was coming off a 1-0 victory in a friendly over the MLS New York Red Bulls. But once the soggy affair came to a close only the out-of-towners were completely satisfied with the outcome, another 2-1 decision in their favour — one that saw them completely dominate the Impact.

Playing under a steady drizzle in front of a rain-reduced crowd announced at 11,907, the visiting RailHawks took the lead eight minutes in when Etienne Barbara, tops in the NASL so far this year, scored his eighth of the current schedule, his shot deflecting off the back of Impact defender Kevin Hatchi on the way to the netting.

He came close to doubling the lead a minute later, breaking in on Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush (making his second straight start in place of injured Bill Gaudette). But Bush was able to thwart the drive. An Impact miscue at midfield led to Carolina’s best chance of the game, a four-on-two charge that ultimately fizzled out when Barbara misfired from in close.

Montreal’s chances against the larger, heavier visitors were few and consisted mainly of vain attempts to spring Ali Gerba, the best of which came in the 27th minute on a set-up by David Testo, acting as Impact captain for the afternoon in the absence of injured Nevio Pizzolitto. The intensity of feelings between the clubs became evident in the 25th minute when, after a tackle that left both Gerba and his opposite number on the turf, Barbara offered a hand up to Gerba, who refused the offer of aid. Teammate Kevin Hatchi drilled the ball towards Barbara, bouncing it off the inattentive visiting forward.

Resumption of play for the second half saw the RailHawks continue to impose their pace on the game, with Barbara earning his second goal of the game after finishing a play started by midfielder Jonny Steele in the 51st minute.

Carolina held the edge in play for the bulk of the second half with Montreal only really applying pressure in the final few minutes of the match, Idriss Ech Chergui, who substituted in for Amir Lowery in the 77th minute, getting his second of the season seven minutes after entering the game.

Impact players Luke Kreamalmeyer (45th min), Testo (54th), Lowery (67th) and Anthony Le Gall (84th) were shown yellow cards by referee Carol Anne Chenard while none of the RailHawks managed to catch her eye.

The author of both his side’s goals was pleased with his afternoon. “We always have a good game against this team. I really liked it,” said Barbara, who has scored in every NASL game he’s played in this season and already set the RailHawks record for most goals in a season with nine. “Any game we play against Montreal could go either way. Right now I’m on a streak and everything is happening automatically. I could have got another hat trick today.”

Reminded that the Impact is moving on up next season Barbara expressed his interest in doing the same thing. “I came here with the intention of not staying in this league. Although I love playing in Carolina my aim is always to play in a higher league. I hope to make an impact because I want to play in MLS.”

Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush was not so pleased with his team’s afternoon. While he feels comfortable with the team and thinks they’re comfortable with him in nets, today’s performance certainly left something to be desired.

“Obviously it wasn’t the result we were looking for,” he said. “Carolina’s a good team and we didn’t come out with the same mind set necessarily and play to the same energy level as we have been.”

Bush commented on the balls that eluded him. “The first goal was just unlucky. He hit the shot with five or six players behind the ball. It hit a defender and went over me. There’s not necessarily something that you can do a lot about —maybe step a little quicker — but the second time he got free he had a lot more space and we should have been keeping a closer eye on him.”

Impact coach Marc Dos Santos said that today might have been a day to stay in bed. “We just didn’t show up. We had nothing at all. They were much more aggressive than we were. They completely dominated play at midfield. They made better decisions and controlled the game.”

The Impact’s next game is Saturday against FC Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg.

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