Home MLS Montreal Impact Impact blows pair of leads, loses first home match of the season

Impact blows pair of leads, loses first home match of the season

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Giving up the first goal and blowing both 2-1 and 3-2 leads to the visiting Colorado side, Marco Schallibaum’s Montreal Impact suffered it first home loss of the season but maintained its hold on first place in the Eastern Conference.

The home side began strong, fielding what is generally its best 11 with Troy Perkins in goal, a back line of Hassoun Camara, Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari and Jeb Brovsky, midfielders Andrea Pisanu, Felipe, Patrice Bernier and Andres Romero and topped by forwards Marci Di Vaio and Daniele Paponi.

The Impact attacked early, with midfielders taking turns feeding Di Vaio, but the Italian striker was unable to put one away and would be held off the score sheet for the first time at home this season.

Colorado got out to a lead in the 24th minute on a shot from Atiba Harris, who headed it in from about 10 yards, the former Vancouver Whitecap scoring his sixth of the year off a free kick from fellow midfielder Dillon Powers.

Camara got his second of the season in the 38th minute, drawing Montreal even on his second of the present campaign. Originating with a Felipe corner kick, the ball found Di Vaio in the penalty area and the former Bologna standout had his tip misplayed by a Rapids defender, ending up at the feet of a prone Camara. A first touch elevated the ball slightly and a second drove it into the mesh behind Colorado ‘keeper, Clint Irwin, the former Canadian Soccer League standout.

The 20,383 fans exploded in delight four minutes later when Paponi curled a beauty around Irwin and into the goal behind him, registering his first MLS marker in the 42nd minute and sending his side into the dressing room at half time in a familiar position, up a goal.

The second half began with more than a little argy bargy from both sides as referee Drew Fischer turned scribe, booking three players in the first 10 minutes. Rapids defender German Mera was booked in the 48th, teammate Nick La Brocca in the 52nd and Montreal defender Jeb Brovsky was added in the 55th.

Colorado pulled even in the 59th minute, thanks to a quickly released shot off the boot of Powers that found its way past both the right post and Troy Perkins. Moments before, Impact captain, Davy Arnaud, had entered the game, returning to first team action after missing a number of matches due to a concussion.

Blake Smith came on for Romero in the 67th and almost immediately had an impact, his speed and fancy footwork leading to a Di Vaio opportunity within two minutes but the Italian’s shot was blocked in the backfield.

Paponi potted a second goal in the 72nd minute, once again putting Montreal out front, this goal the result of a four-pass buildup that involved Camara and Felipe before Arnaud took the ball off the goal line and got it back to the 31-year-old former Bologna attacker.

Colorado kept coming and tied things up five minutes later. Moments after Perkins punched a Deshorn Brown shot out of harm’s way, defender Christopher Klute got the ball back to him for a second chance. This time the Jamaican forward found the twine.

Added time proved to be Hero Time for Tony Cascio. Coming on in the 89th minute the Arizona native was part of a two-on-one made possible by an Arnaud miscue. Bernier managed to block the initial shot but, falling on the play, was unable to counter when the ball found itself at Cascio’s feet. The midfielder’s shot went between Bernier and Arnaud and sent the Rapids home with their first victory since May 25.

“I thought it was the result of a game well-played by both teams. The emotion was there and the fans had a great time in the stands despite the defeat for Montreal,” said Colorado head coach, Oscar Pareja. “From our end I thought it was a game that tested us hard against a very good rival and, to be quite honest, with you I thought our team deserved the victory. I think we played better.

“The most important is that our players always know how we win, how we tie and how we lose. We want to enjoy these three points and build and work on the positive things we had today. Defensively we will do better, for sure,” he concluded.

“There was a bit of luck in the other team’s favour and some that went against us but that’s football,” venture Impact gaffer, Marco Schallibaum.

“We were a little too wide defensively in the first half. I think we did a little better in the second half. On the flanks we pushed forward but not enough. We usually put more pressure on the other team. We were missing a few centimetres today but that’s not to take anything away from Colorado, who played a good game.

“We were strong enough to change the score twice but what is important in football is the end and it was a bad end for us. Losing the ball in the last minute was not so good for us. We must stand up, that’s life and that’s football. We play Toronto on Wednesday,” he concluded.

“Any time you give up four goals or even three goals at home it’s hard to say you’re going to win. It’s something we’re disappointed in, for sure,” offered Brovsky. “It’s a heartbreaker too because it reminds of what happened last year in Colorado. We’re not happy and again, we have turnaround in Toronto and we’ll have another chance to prove ourselves.”

“You get punished in this league for a mistake and we certainly did,” he declared. “It’s not one guy on the team, it’s the collective 11. We lost it ourselves. We beat ourselves. It’s something we can learn from and we’re not going to do it again.”

Bernier, who wore the captain’s armband again today, was less than thrilled with the result.

“We weren’t very good defensively all game. We gave them too many opportunities to score, to come back in the game every time we scored. We lacked some concentration today in our defensive system. We weren’t as sharp as we can be. It wasn’t our greatest game. We made a lot of mistakes that gave them opportunities to score.

“I’m not going to take credit away from them. They played their game,” he continued. “I think since we were doing so well offensively we think that we can go score four or five but sometimes we have to manage the game a little bit better so our defence can have a breather. It happens. We’re not going to play 34 great games but we’ve got another game on Wednesday.”

The Impact travel to Toronto for Wednesday’s game where they will meet a short-staffed TFC side that will be significantly short of a full roster, four of its players seconded to Gold Cup duty.

The Impact began the day as the only team still undefeated against Western opposition, entering today’s match sporting a 3-0-1 record in inter-conference play. The last Eastern Conference team to suffer defeat at home, Montreal is also the only team to beat Portland so far in 2013.

• Montreal striker Marco Di Vaio began the day leading all MLS players with 27 shots on goal. The Italian forward recorded two more in this evening’s match. Midfielder Patrice Bernier, tops in game-winning assists with four to his credit to this point, extended his team record to 31 consecutive MLS starts.

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