Home MLS Montreal Impact Impact players admit fatigue a factor in latest draw, this time to lowly Chivas USA

Impact players admit fatigue a factor in latest draw, this time to lowly Chivas USA

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Winless in its past two games and picking up only one of six possible points while allowing seven goals in its last 180 minutes of competition, the Montreal Impact might just have hit a bump in the road to the playoffs. Or, it could be an indication that the Impact players had been playing above their heads in the early going this season, finding their proper level as the schedule unfolds.

Facing a team that has not put a game in the victory column since March 30, Montreal had the bulk of the scoring chances and shored up its recently porous defence, allowing a single goal to this evening’s opponents but were unable to do come out of the match with more than a sister-kissing result, drawing against Chivas USA at Saputo Stadium as each side scored a single goal. Patrice Bernier stroked home the equalizer on a penalty that was drawn by Sanna Nyassi.

“I said that it was not going to be easy to play Chivas if we didn’t score right away,” said Impact head coach, Marco Schallibaum, in his post-game comments.”And we had a number of chances. Their goalkeeper (Dan Kennedy) made three or four good saves but that’s football and when you make a mistake on the back line, you end up paying for it.”

“No team in this league is easy to beat,” Schallibaum replied when asked if his troops may have been a little complacent going up against the last-place side in the Western Division. “You can’t take any opponent lightly. Chivas had tied their last two games and they are good defensively. We played at a fairly high pace, especially in the second half. I was pleased to see that. The will to win was there. We penetrated the box regularly and the penalty we were awarded was a result of that type of aggressive offensive play.”

Back at work after being forced to sit out Wednesday’s match against Toronto at BMO Field for setting foot inadvertently on the pitch the game before, Schallibaum spent the majority of this encounter seated on a chair rather than stalking the sidelines, but still had a few less than supportive words about the officiating.

“The goalkeeper took three minutes every time (to put the ball back in play),” he started before reflecting on his words.
“I can’t say anything, but someone should give a yellow card to the goalkeeper. The referee has to stop this nonsense.”

Leading MLS scorer Marco Di Vaio had the first kick at the can in a scoreless first half, his fifth-minute shot being turned aside by Kennedy, who kept the Goats in the game, facing three shots while his teammates were only able to put one on target.

The bulk of the opening half’s entertainment came largely courtesy of Impact midfielder Nyassi. The sparkplug of the home team’s offensive efforts in the first 45, the Gambian speedster was responsible for a number of centring passes that teammates were unable to put away.

Twice he beat Chivas defender Carlos Borja and centred the ball to teammates in front of the enemy goal but neither Di Vaio nor Felipe were able to put the ball into the mesh behind Kennedy, who made seven saves total on the night.

The fleet African midfielder came in for some kudos from his gaffer, who then expanded his praise to include the team at large.

“He played well, very well. He was quick and provoked a lot of things. He got inside 20 metres and it wasn’t by chance that he drew the penalty call. I think we were strong on the back end with the exception of the mistake in the backfield. I don’t think they had any other real chances, which is positive for us,” said Schallibaum.

Chivas’s best chance in the opening half came in the 37th and was the result of a Jeb Brovsky miscue. The Impact defender inadvertently abandoned the ball to an opponent and had to be bailed out by an alert Matteo Ferrari, wearing the captain’s armband for tonight’s game with both Davy Arnaud and Bernier on the bench to start the match.

Chivas got onto the scoreboard first, potting its goal in the 55th minute. It was the result of a Hassoun Camara error that saw him lose the ball at midfield to Red and White midfielder Jorge Villafana, who passed to forward Jose Correa. A centering pass to Eric Avila who was turned back by the crossbar in the 55th minute, landing at the feet of the San Diego native and ex-TFC midfielder who put his second kick at the can into the mesh behind Impact keeper Troy Perkins.

Determined to get the goal back Montreal went on the offensive with Di Vaio getting two chances from in close in the 60th minute, both handled by Kennedy. A 76th minute corner kick also finished its flight in Kennedy’s capable hands.

The Impact earned a penalty kick when Nyassi was hauled down in the area three minutes later. Taken by Bernier, who had subbed in for Felipe in the 68th, the standard stuttering approach to the ball paid off as it did all last season and the ball slowly rolled into the net to the left of Kennedy.

Montreal pressed as the last minutes ticked off the clock with Andrew Wenger, who came on for Di Vaio in the 86th minute, showing initiative and more confidence than he has in most of his appearances this season. He took services from Bernier in the 88th and Nyassi in the 89th, putting his first shot outside the far post and having the other stopped by a Chivas defender with Kennedy out of position.

“We’re going through a bit of a tough phase at the moment. There’s a lot of physical fatigue and a bit of mental fatigue as well. It’s a long season and you have to expect some periods like the one we’re going through but we have to stay the course and play through them,” said Camara before expressing surprise at the level of play their opponents showed in the match.

“They established a fairly slow pace and we let them dictate the pace in the first half. We should have picked it up a little but it was tough to find our spots with their defence so solid back there. We did well in front of their goal but just weren’t able to finish.

“We have to roll up our sleeves, keep moving forward, and keep working until things start going our way again,” the former Paris St. Germain player concluded. “I’m still confident and have no worries in that area.”

Midfielder Bernier also expressed the opinion that, with three games played in the past nine days, fatigue was a factor in the result the team obtained against Chivas USA.

“I think we had enough chances to take the lead,” he offered. “The humidity and fatigue were probably factors but it is nice to come back and get the point. In the end the little points will count but I think we created enough chances to say that we maybe could have had a two-goal lead at one point but that’s soccer. That’s football and we take the one point. We have a game every week and we have the time to prepare for them properly.”

Still sitting atop the MLS Eastern Division with a one-point lead and two games in hand over Sporting Kansas City despite picking up only two of nine possible points in their last three outings, Montreal visits New York Red Bulls next Saturday.

THROW-INS: Impact technical director, Nick De Santis, is the latest Montrealer to be placed on the DL. He will undergo surgery to his Achilles heel on Tuesday as a result of an injury suffered in a charity match on Thursday.

• Impact midfielder Collen Warner started his 50th MLS game this evening as did his Chivas USA counterpart Gabriel Farfan.

• There was an international feel to Sunday’s game, both on the pitch and off, with live musical entertainment and tasty treats from a variety of cultural communities supplementing the standard Saputo Stadium ambience.

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