Home MLS Montreal Impact Impact coach praises Canadian youngster Ouimette after win over Red Bulls

Impact coach praises Canadian youngster Ouimette after win over Red Bulls

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Four wins in as many games was not what anyone had predicted for the Montreal Impact before the start of the 2013 schedule. But it is what the team has delivered, Saturday prevailing over the New York Red Bulls as Marco Di Vaio got the only goal in the 1-0 match at Olympic Stadium.

“I would have said maybe 3-1 or something like that,” said midfielder Patrice Bernier, possibly the team’s most consistent player so far this year, “But a perfect month? We have as many points as we had in 13 or 14 games last year. It’s going well, we’re solid defensively and Troy (Perkins) made some big saves today. It’s good for our confidence to be on top. We’re happy but we have to continue in the same vein as we have been.”

As it has in its other matches this season, the Impact got out to a lead in the first half and held it through the second to prevail and remain atop the MLS Eastern Conference with a perfect 12-point harvest.

The visiting side took the play to its hosts in the early minutes of the opening, half but had the tide turn against it as time ticked away. By the quarter-hour mark things were decidedly in favour of Montreal.

Di Vaio put the Impact in the driver’s seat, taking a lofted, mid-field pass from Bernier, who has featured in four of his team’s six goals so far this year, and slotting it into the Red Bulls net low and to the right of ‘keeper Luis Robles.

The Impact had other opportunities in the opening 45 but was unable to convert any of them. Hassoun Camara, playing on the outside of the back line, dribbled up the pitch, evading and outplaying three opponents before passing off the Felipe. The Brazilian’s shot from just outside the penalty area was stopped by an airborne Robles in the 17th minute.

In the 27th, Di Vaio and Felipe tried a give-and-go but the ball didn’t make it back to the Italian, who missed a header moments later. A minute after that the former Serie A star was in alone but fell to the pitch before being able to complete his try.

New York put the ball into the mesh behind Perkins in the 33rd minute but referee Chris Penso ruled that forward Fabian Espindola was off-side.

Montreal has had difficulty with its second halves so far in 2013, the team letting down late in the matches and allowing its opponents a chance to get back into the game. Today it held firm despite the absence of an injured Alessandro Nesta, replaced by local boy, Karl Ouimette, who made his first start of the season and more than held his own.

“He played very, very well. He didn’t make any mistakes. He was solid and he concentrated,” said Head Coach Marco Schallibaum when asked for his assessment of the youngster’s performance. “He also played a simple game, like I asked of him. He did very well for a first game.”

Informed on Thursday that he’d be starting, Ouimette, who was only told today that he’d be at central defender rather than on the flank, also pronounced himself satisfied with his initial outing.

“I was very, very nervous,” admitted the 20-year-old. “When I arrived at the stadium I was shaking a little bit but once you get a first good touch in, once you win your first battle for the ball, things start to go well and you’re able to advance the ball.

“We didn’t give up any goals and we didn’t allow the opponents many chances,” he answered after being asked to evaluate both his and the team’s afternoon. “Personally, I won my duels and was able to anticipate the play well enough. That’s what I was hoping for from a first appearance.”

The second half saw New York once have the better performance in the opening minutes and then, as it did in the first half, the Impact took control of the game as it wore on.

In the 51st minute, Andrea Pisanu had his drive pushed over the bar by Robles while Jeb Brovsky put one onto the top of the net in the 64th. At the 70-minute mark Andres Romero crossed the ball to an onrushing Di Vaio who was unable to intersect with it to finish the play.

New York played the last 15 minutes a man short, due to defender Brandon Barklage running afoul of the referee on two occasions, each offence earning him a caution. Bernier put the resulting free kick over the New York goal.

Opportunities continued to arise but the Impact were unable to capitalize as Camara fed Di Vaio with the forward’s shot rolling wide and to the left of goal in the 79th minute. The 36-year-old Italian had a last kick at the can in the 87th but was thwarted by a leaping Robles.

“We had a little luck,” admitted Schallibaum. “We could have made it two or three (to) zero. When you’re on top you have to fight to stay there. All the other teams want to take our place so we have to defend our position.”

Asked if this match, which saw Di Vaio get his second goal in as many games, and come close on several other occasions, was the former Bologna star’s best outing this season, Schallibaum answered, “He was fresh and had a lot of chances. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to score a second goal but he worked very hard today. As you age, rhythm becomes more important but he did very well in deep.”

Di Vaio was of the same opinion, saying, and “Every game I feel better. The team plays better too. We did a lot better today than against Toronto. We could have scored two or three today. The season’s not over yet so we’re going to keep going like we have. We’re happy because we’ve won four games but we know we still have a lot of work to do.

“I have to improve my conditioning to be able to score those other goals,” he continued.”Today I could have scored two or three if I had played a little better. I’m happy because we won. We won against a difficult team and we won a tough game.”

The Impact plays its next game on the road, meeting Sporting KC in Kansas City next Saturday.

THROW-INS – Justin Mapp, who subbed in for Andreas Pisanu in the 62nd minute, made his 250th MLS appearance in Saturday’s match. His next assist will be the 50th of his pro career.

• In last week’s game against Toronto FC, Impact captain Davy Arnaud became the first player to log 3,000 minutes on the pitch with the team in MLS play while midfielder Patrice Bernier became the first to reach the 10-goal plateau for the side.

• Coach Schallibaum denied that playing Ouimette in today’s game dropped Zarek Valentin down the team’s depth chart, declaring the decision to be a tactical move, saying “We knew their number nine usually works the left side and kicks with his left foot. It wasn’t a matter of not choosing Zarek.”

• The Impact and Red Bulls reserve teams meet Sunday morning in what will be the first of 14 matches for each side.

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