Home MLS Montreal Impact Bernier’s brace helps Impact power to fifth win in a row

Bernier’s brace helps Impact power to fifth win in a row

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The Montreal Impact kept its slim postseason hopes alive, defeating fifth-place DC United 3-0 in front of a full house of 20,011 fans at Saputo Stadium, where the capacity has increased in each recent home game as more seats are installed, and drawing to within a single point of the fifth and last playoff berth on the MLS Eastern Conference table.

Speaking in French to open his post-game remarks, as he usually does when thing go well for his men, head coach Jesse Marsch: “I spoke with the players after the game. I’m very happy for them because they worked hard, worked a lot, and worked very well. They deserved it. I’m happy, for the players and everything they’ve put into it,” he said before injecting a note of caution. “But, as we’ve said all year, it’s one game and now we have to look forward to next week.”

Local product Patrice Bernier, had a red-letter day on the pitch, earning Player of the Game notice for his efforts, which included a brace and an assist for a scoring line that he probably hasn’t put up since his days in junior hockey. Recently added goalkeeper Troy Perkins earned a clean sheet.

The visiting side, playing its third game in eight days, had the upper hand as the game got underway. Its first of seven tries at the Montreal goal came in the fourth minute but was alertly batted away by Perkins, who came in for praise from his coach.

“What Troy brings is great professionalism. He’s a sure goalie, a veteran player who brings a real presence to every aspect of being in the nets. He’s fit in very well,” said Marsch.

Marco Di Vaio’s strike turned the momentum around for Montreal in a game that largely went the visitors’ way for the first 20 minutes. The Impact, called offside five times in the first quarter of the match, finally connected in the 24th minute. An offensive zone throw-in found Bernier. The midfielder relayed to Di Vaio and the Italian designated player curled his shot around D.C. ‘keeper Bill Hamid, finding the far post for the Impact’s 40th marker of the season.

“We were still getting our legs and our lungs and settling into the game. Marco’s goal allowed us to settle down,” opined Marsch. “He’s really adapted and now we’ve changed the way we play him I feel he’s just taking off and getting better and better. The fans love him and they should because he’s been great.

“Because he’s so smart it wasn’t going to take him long to get adjusted. He had to deal with what was happening in Europe, getting his family settled, get used to a new team, a new city, a new coach and new players. He settled in very well. He’s part of the group in every way, from what he brings on the field to the kind of guy he is.”

The heat and number of recent games began taking their toll on D.C. United, who started the game with newbies Long Tan and Lionard Pajoy up top. Midfielders Dwayne Rosario, a single goal away from completing his century, and Chris Pontius, the team’s top scorer this season with 10 goals to his credit, were on the bench.

The second half saw Montreal continue to pressure their guests and having the strategy pay off for it in the 49th minute. With many fans still awaiting their half-time refreshments and away from the stands, D.C. defender Brandon McDonald bowled over Collen Warner in the penalty area, which brought Bernier to the spot. As he has on every other attempt this season, he made use of his now-familiar hesitation step before slowly rolling the ball into the left corner as Hamid dove the other way.

Asked about the effectiveness of his stutter-step following the game Bernier commented on that as well as offering an opinion on the team as a whole. “I don’t know if they watch video or not,” he said. “If not, too bad for them. It’s working for the moment. Everyone here is on the same wavelength since a few games ago. Marco scored his third. The team is playing well. Every game someone else turns out to be the Player of the Game. I have no complaints.”

Montreal completed the scoring in added time when Bernier took the ball on his own side of centre and charged upfield. After beating McDonald just outside the six-metre box, he shot behind a sliding Hamid to place the ball into the mesh.

Goalkeeper Perkins gave the bulk of the credit for the shutout to his teammates saying, “I think it’s an exclamation point to the guys in front of me. The team’s playing extremely well, they’re organized and they’re putting what they have on the line.”

Asked how he felt he was adjusting to his new team the 31-year-old said that he thought it was a good fit for him in Montreal. “I think the management has been outstanding. The players have been great. There’s nothing better than results like we’ve been having (to help someone fit in)”

THROW-INS – For the third week in a row a member of the Montreal Impact has been rewarded with the AT&T Goal of the Week. This time around the honours go to Lamar Neagle, also named to the MLS Team of the Week, for his Patrice Bernier-assisted strike against San Jose last Saturday.

• Prior to the match, a number of Canadian Olympians from the London 2012 Games were introduced to the crowd, among them bronze medalist Alexandre Despatie.

• With 42 goals scored this season the Impact now holds the MLS record for a first-year team. Its dozen wins are also the most ever accumulated by a Canadian MLS team. Vancouver Whitecaps have 10 to their credit so far this season.

• D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario, last year’s MLS MVP, and Serbian born Dejan Jakovic, who grew up in the Toronto area, have both represented Canada internationally. De Rosario has 68 caps while Jakovic has suited up for the national side 11 times.

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