Home MLS Montreal Impact Impact scores five times, delivers Biello his first MLS coaching victory

Impact scores five times, delivers Biello his first MLS coaching victory

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Looking more like the side that played the first dozen games of the schedule than the one that has set foot on the pitch for most of its recent matches, the Montreal Impact, if only for a matter of hours pending Sunday’s match results, regained top spot on the MLS Eastern Conference ladder with a 5-0 drubbing of the Houston Dynamo.

Mauro Biello was at the helm for tonight’s game, a change made necessary by head coach Marco Schallibaum’s suspension and ended up on the winning side for the first time in MLS.

“We saw fresh legs tonight, good movement and, in the end, it was a big victory for us,” he said after the match. “I think we played well defensively. We were very compact and were able to counterattack several times. We saw a little of everything.”

“When you have that kind of movement up top and the quality we had in midfield, you’re going to give (opponents) trouble,” he concluded.

The Impact opened the game at a high pace and maintained it through the opening quarter-hour with Justin Mapp acting as the team’s offensive spark plug while Patrice Bernier and Hernan Bernardello were instrumental in turning the play back up the pitch. Striker Marco Di Vaio spent most of the opening 45 a half-step offside, getting whistled five times.

Chances came early and often for the home side, which started only Jeb Brovsky and Felipe from the lineup that dropped a 1-0 CONCACAF Champions League game to CD Heredia in Guatemala City on Wednesday night.

In many respects the opening half was the Justin Mapp Show. The midfielder was a focal point of the Montreal attack, leading the charge and unerringly sending crosses into the area as well as carrying the ball up the pitch himself.

The Mississippi-born midfielder was instrumental in the two goals his side scored in as many minutes, that allowed the Impact to go into the interval with a 2-0 lead.

In the 35th he took a pass from Bernardello and cut to the middle of the pitch before finding an onside Di Vaio and slipping him the ball. One step and one touch later the Italian striker had driven the ball into the mesh above diving Houston keeper, Tally Hall.

The sold out house of 21,801 fans had hardly settled back into their seats when the Impact struck a second time, once again on a play that owed its success to Mapp. Di Vaio was relieved of the ball but it was recovered by Mapp, who got it to Felipe. The Brazilian,looking more and more like last season’s model, got off a shot that was reminiscent of another countryman, slotting it inside the far post with a curling shot that Neymar would have been proud to unleash.

“I think I can’t say if I’m back or not,” he said when asked if he was completely recovered from the abdominal surgery he underwent in the off-season. “I wasn’t playing well for a number of reasons. When we play well we win games. We have to do the same work. We have to do the same thing. Everybody played with heart. That’s the way to win. It’s not a matter of Felipe being back. I’m happy to help the team win and I’m happy to play well. I just want to keep going the way I am now.”

As to the effect that the win might have on team confidence moving forward the Brazilian midfielder linked effort with results.

“I think, for the team, when we play well we can do very good things and we can win games so we just have to keep doing what we’re doing now and we’re going to make the playoffs.”

The Impact came within a hair of taking a three-goal lead into the interval. In the final minute of scheduled time, Mapp made yet another foray up the right side, crossing to Di Vaio but the former Bologna star tripped over the ball. A Bernardello corner in the minute of extra time went into the outside of the net defended by Hall.

Biello’s crew continued its domination in the second half, stretching its lead to 3-0 in the 58th. Denied by a sliding Kofi Sarkodie, a Di Vaio attack turned into a Bernardello corner. The Argentine midfielder’s attempt was headed away from the area by a defender but landed at the feet of Brovsky, who turned the chance into his second goal of the season.

“He (Bernardello) is a set-piece master,” Brovsky stated. “He works them in pretty well, puts some good pace on them.

“That’s why the far post run is there,” he continued. “If it gets through you have to be there. That’s my job and fortunately I was there.”

A fourth marker came in the 70th, once again from the boot of Di Vaio, giving him a brace for the evening as well as the MLS scoring lead. A long Felipe chip found a hard-charging Patrice Bernier running alongside Di Vaio, both having slipped behind the defence. The man wearing the captain’s armband slipped the ball to his left and Di Vaio leapfrogged over Vancouver’s Camilo and Chicago’s Mike Magee with his 15th of the present campaign.

Montreal capped off the evening with a fifth goal in the only minute of added time, once again on a play set in motion by a long Felipe pass from the midfield navel. The relay found Andrea Pisanu and the 31-year-old midfielder recorded his first goal of the year.

The Impact takes to the pitch again next Saturday in Philadelphia, once again with Biello directing the team’s fortunes as Schallibaum continues to sit out his most recent suspension.

THROW-INS: The Impact’s return from Guatemala City took a fair bit longer than anticipated after the 1-0 loss to CD Heredia on Wednesday. Scheduled for departure almost immediately after the match, the team’s Air Canada charter was delayed by mechanical problems and as a result the team did not arrive back in Montreal until late Thursday evening.

• Impact gaffer, Marco Schallibaum, has the rest of the month off, his two-game suspension in effect for tonight’s game as well as next Saturday’s tilt against the Union.

• The 1994 Montreal Impact squad was honoured before the opening whistle this evening with Pat Harrington, Rudy Doliscat, Grant Needham and Patrick Diotte among the former players introduced to the crowd.

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