Home MLS Montreal Impact Felipe pulls the strings as Impact overwhelms Red Bulls

Felipe pulls the strings as Impact overwhelms Red Bulls

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If there is any substance to the “science” of biorhythms, the Montreal Impact was definitely on a triple-high this evening. Imported DP Marco Di Vaio got his first MLS goal, a sell-out crowd of 19,441 turned out and the home side took it to the visiting New York Red Bulls, beating them 3-1 to avoid being swept in this season’s series against them.

“I think that we were able to control the game. We were organized, we made it hard on them, and we didn’t give much up. From the back all the way up I think a bunch of guys had good games and collectively they were organized, they kept things tight,” said head coach Jesse Marsch. “We made it hard on (Thierry) Henry and on their good guys. I think it was a very good performance.”

The opening half featured stellar goaltending and spectacular stops at both ends of the field, ending without either side managing a goal. As inconsistent as his team has been so far this season, Donovan Ricketts needed both good fortune and good positioning to get through the first half while at the other end of the pitch, Montreal castoff Bill Gaudette did everything possible to indicate that the Impact made a mistake in letting him get away.

Lady Luck smiled on Ricketts in the 12th minute. A New York free kick taken by former Arsenal star, Henry, was headed toward the Impact goal, the deviation making it impossible for Ricketts to gain complete control of the ball. He managed to get himself in front of it but was completely out of position once the ball landed in front of him with an onrushing Markus Holgersson bearing down. The Red Bulls defender slid in, attempting to put the ball home but instead ended up sending it over the Impact goal, to the relief of the first full house since moving into the renovated Saputo Stadium.

Almost immediately afterward Marco Di Vaio, goalless since joining the Impact, had a chance at the other end but arrived a split second late, beaten to the ball by Gaudette, playing his fourth straight game since being acquired from Los Angeles.

Di Vaio had a shot from inside the penalty area in the 21st but his curving shot for the far post was stopped by an airborne Gaudette. Justin Mapp went in alone seconds later but shot harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s chest.

New York’s second opportunity came in the 33rd minute and was set up by a Henry corner kick. Headed towards the Montreal net, the ball was punched away by an alert Ricketts. Kenny Cooper, New York’s leading marksman had a chance a minute later but was also turned aside by the tall Jamaican.

Beginning the second half with a bang, Montreal scored in the 48th minute, Di Vaio’s first in an Impact uniform coming on a play started by midfielder Felipe. The young Brazilian passed to Justin Mapp in front of the net. Mapp found Di Vaio on the right side of the six-metre box and the Italian striker struck from about 12 metres out.

“I’m very happy,” said a smiling Di Vaio after the match. “It was an important game for us, playing against the first-place team. We played very well and we deserved the win.”

“I’m happy for him,” said Marsch. “He’s been here for all the right reasons and he’s committed himself in a really good way and now he has a really good understanding of what this is. Within training, every week he’s gotten sharper and better so we knew it was only a matter of time,” the Impact head coach continued.

A second marker followed a minute later, also on a play that originated with Felipe. This time the youthful midfielder chipped the ball over a Red Bull opponent, sending captain,Davy Arnaud in alone to pot his fourth of the season from a dozen metres out.

New York got one back in the 57th. Henry managed to corral a high pass on the right side of the goal area, knocking it down with his right foot and flipping a 10-metre shot over the oncoming Ricketts. Defender Jeb Brovsky, on the goal line, tried to head the ball away from its target but only managed to deflect it up and into the mesh forming the roof of the net.

Undaunted the Impact went back on the attack with Felipe taking a shot that bounced over the horizontal bar in the 64th minute.

Tempers flared and play became ragged and less than genteel around the 65th minute as both teams found fault with the referees work. Voices were raised, calls and non-calls questioned and a few shoves were given, the indiscipline lasting about five minutes and eventually leading to warnings being given to Montreal’s Di Vaio as well as to Red Bulls defender Roy Miller for their assessments of Abiodun Okulaja’s handling of the game.

Felipe garnered his third assist of the night, sealing Player of the Game status, in the 74th minute. In possession, he passed to Sanna Nyassi, who subbed in for Mapp at about the 60-minute mark, and the Gambian scooted around Gaudette and placed the ball in the back of the net for his fourth of the year.

Asked about being awarded Player of the Game status, the 21-year-old preferred to speak about the team rather than his standout performance.

“I’m very happy,” he said. “It was an important game for us, playing against the first-place team. We played very well and we deserved the win.”

The Impact leads all MLS sides with seven penalty goals, having converted every attempt it has been awarded. They also lead the league with 302 fouls committed and 68 off-sides. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is the league leader for starts with 22 and Davy Arnaud’s 59 fouls also lead all players.

• The Impact’s eight victories are more than either Toronto FC or Vancouver Whitecaps managed in their inaugural seasons. As many different players registered the winning goals as the Impact have check marks in the win column – Hassoun Camara, Patrice Bernier, Felipe, Sanna Nyassi, Justin Mapp, Davy Arnaud, Bernardo Corradi and Andrew Wenger.

• Former Impact ‘keeper, Bill Gaudette, (2-5-2 in nine games with Montreal in 2011) made his second trip to Montreal this season. He was here in May while a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Gaudette has backstopped his new side to a 2-1-1 record in the four games he has played for New York.

• Montreal has scored 33 goals so far this season, only seven short of the MLS record for an expansion team set last year by Portland.

• New York forwards Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper have registered 24 between them.

Di Vaio faces charges, but we have yet to hear his side of the story (CLICK)

Meet the men behind the scenes for the Montreal Impact — why Braz and Pozzi’s roles are vital (CLICK)

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