Home MLS Montreal Impact Houston, we have problems: Mistakes help Impact to victory

Houston, we have problems: Mistakes help Impact to victory

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The Impact’s hold on first place in the MLS Eastern Conference was not at risk when it kicked off against the Houston Dynamo at Saputo Stadium this evening. Second-place New York Red Bulls are on an off-week and nobody else was within three points of the Montreal side. Despite not having anything at risk, Marco Schallibaum’s men took the contest by a 2-0 score to remain undefeated at home this year, a victory due as much or more to the visiting team’s misfortunes as to the Impact’s performance.

If you want to win a game against the Impact it helps to place multiple shots on target. Houston managed but two, the first not coming until the 82nd minute, by which time the game was pretty much on ice, the Impact well on its way to an undefeated 6-0-1 record at home in league play.

Montreal came out like gangbusters in the first half, getting both of the game’s goals in the opening frame while the visiting side held the edge in battles won, ball possession and passes both attempted and completed. These stats were in the home side’s favour in the scoreless second half.

When the whistle sent the teams into their dressing rooms for half time, the Impact had taken 11 shots, with seven of them finding their target, among them both the goals the team scored on the evening. The Dynamo managed to shoot 10 times towards Troy Perkins without a single try finding the proper range.

A pair of first-half miscues sealed Houston’s fate, one a physical mistake, the other a major mental error.

Just short of a quarter hour into the game, Patrice Bernier lobbed a pass up the middle that found Felipe’s chest. The Brazilian midfielder brought it under control and drove it into the mesh behind Houston keeper Tally Hall, opening the scoring with his third of the present campaign.

Montreal defender Matteo Ferrari’s sliding tackle on a Houston attacker earned him a yellow card and allowed Dynamo forward Giles Barnes to have a kick at the can, much to the dismay of the almost 18,000 spectators on hand. His penalty shot went sailing way above the Montreal goal, finishing its high arcing trajectory well up in the stands behind the Montreal goal.

Asked if it was the easiest penalty shot he had faced, the Montreal goalkeeper replied, “I guess so. It is what it is. I don’t think it was a penalty to begin with so that was justice. It hasn’t happened too often but I’ll take it when I can get it.”

Montreal’s second goal came in the 32nd minute, and was the result of a back pass to nowhere by Houston defender Corey Ashe. Marco Di Vaio chased the ball down and broke in on the opposing goal, Andrea Pisanu and Sanna Nyassi along for the sprint. The Italian striker earned his 10th of the season, putting the ball into the centre of the net from the left side of the goal.

The teams were more evenly matched in the second half with Montreal managing to hold onto its lead, but only put three of its 10 attempts on target while winning the majority of the duels for the ball.

The most entertaining portion of the closing half came in the 88th minute when an audience member jumped onto the playing surface, ran the length of the pitch with security personnel in close pursuit and was eventually cornered and led away, spending the rest of the game awaiting transport via police car to his next destination.

Coach Marco Schallibaum commented on his team’s performance in very positive terms after the match saying, “We came out like a fireworks display, especially in the first half. We could have had, four, five, or six goals but we didn’t get them and for that we have to congratulate Houston for that. A 2-0 game is not the easiest to manage but while we may have been a little less strong in the second half we were able to play a solid game from the point of view of commitment and also in terms of our defence because they are a good team.”

His central defenders came in for particular plaudits from the gaffer.

“They (Houston) were able to cross the ball regularly and we were able to counter them largely because of our central defenders, Matteo (Ferrari) and (Alessandro) Nesta. I think we deserved to win the game because we created our chances and we showed our quality once again,” Schallibaum said.

“I’ve always said that Alessandro, even at 70 or 80 per cent, will always play on my team because he’s a guy who has a positive aura that affects the other players and Matteo has been playing at a very high level for many weeks now. They provide the team with a sense of security.

“I’m very happy,” Schallibaum concluded.” I know my team could respond this way. Especially in the first half it was amazing to see the team have so many chances and play such good football.”

Midfielder Felipe also had something to say about team unity and its effects on the 2013 squad’s results so far.

“I think I have to say that we played like a team tonight. That’s the most important thing for us. When we play like a team we can do good things. We demonstrated tonight that we can do good things this season. All we have to do is continue this way and keep working.” he offered.

“I think the group is so strong,” he continued. “We do what the coach wants and we don’t have just one, two or three good players, we have a group. We are like friends and we are like brothers. In the field we run for each other and the only important thing is to get the three points every game.”

Asked for the secret to the Impact’s unbeaten home record this campaign, Goalkeeper Perkins stated simply, “It’s our home. We play a little faster at home, with a bit more energy and a little bit more bite to us and I think you saw that tonight.”

THROW-INS Saputo Stadium fans were able to have their pictures taken tonight with the Voyageurs Cup, emblematic of Canadian soccer supremacy and won this year by the Impact for the first time since 2008

• Neither Montreal nor Houston has had particularly grueling schedules in June. Tonight’s match was the Impact’s third of the month while the Dynamo was taking to the pitch for only its second MLS match.

• Impact defender Karl Ouimette turned 21 yesterday while Davy Arnaud‘s 33rd birthday is on Saturday. All of French Canada can help Collen Warner celebrate his 25th, which coincides with St Jean Baptiste Day but only his fans in Quebec get the day off to take part in the festivities.

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