Home MLS Montreal Impact Impact snatches draw out of the jaws of defeat in Chicago

Impact snatches draw out of the jaws of defeat in Chicago

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In a match more memorable for milestones and miscues than technique or tactics, the Montreal Impact scored first, scored last and managed to snatch a draw from the jaws of all-but certain defeat, tying the Chicago Fire 2-2 at Toyota Park.

Head coach Marco Schallibaum, without the services of workhorse midfielder, Felipe (sidelined for an accumulation of yellow cards) and defender Alessandro Nesta (who remained in Montreal due to injury) inserted Andrew Wenger on the left side of the midfield, the first time he has played the position since turning pro, and Wandrille Lefevre as a central defender.

Well, before the first shot, which didn’t come until after the quarter-hour mark, the pattern of play was established with Chicago on the attack and Montreal’s overworked defence trying to handle the repeated onslaughts, the Impact only rarely setting foot on the enemy side of the pitch.

Chicago, who had seven shots in the first 45 with only one making it through, had the first real opportunity of the evening. Juan Luis Anangono slipped in deep on the left side and attempted a cross to the front of the goal but had it sent out by Lefevre, making his first MLS start, an assignment earned with his strong play against CD Heredia on Tuesday.

Montreal’s first shot of the evening resulted in its first goal of the game and stretched Marco Di Vaio’s league-leading total to 19 on the season. The Italian Designated Player took a long pass up the middle from captain Davy Arnaud and put it into the right side of the Fire goal.

The home side resumed its blockade of the Montreal end and, with the visitors unable to clear their zone, continued to threaten. Mike Magee, in second spot among MLS marksmen with 16 goals to his credit when the match began, shaved the outside of the right upright in the 31st minute and put one over the goal in the 43rd but had his best chance at levelling the score in the second-last minute of the opening half.

Defender Gonzalo Segares fed Dilly Duka on the left side of the box. The midfielder carried it to the end line and passed it back to Magee who shot from less than ten metres. His drive deflected off Lefevre and, in doing so, forced goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who had already committed one way, to dive the other. Perkins grabbed the ball in midair to send the Impact into the interval up a goal.

The Men in Red resumed play in the 45th minute. It took the Impact somewhat longer to follow suit.

While the first half featured play almost exclusively in Montreal’s half of the pitch, the second had the visitors working their tails off in largely futile attempts to get out of the bottom third of the pitch as their hosts had multiple opportunities in the first 15 minutes.

A long 54th-minute Magee corner kick reached Egidio Arevalo Rios beyond the second post. The Uruguayan midfielder headed it back towards the goal where an alert Perkins smartly picked it up off the line.

The overworked back line could only hold out so long. In the 57th, midfielder Alex, who had come on for Logan Pause to open the second half, had his shot blocked with the ball landing Magee’s feet. In behind Impact defender, Jeb Brovsky, the Chicago native — who has revitalized his home town team since joining them earlier this season — bounced the ball into the mesh behind Perkins.

An hour in, Anangono came close to putting the Fire ahead. Up against Lefevre on the right side of the goal, the Chicago forward chose to try to round the rookie rather than pass to Magee, stationed in front. The young central defender, in a move that would have done credit to the man he was replacing, forced Anangono to the outside, gaining a goal kick for the Impact and defusing yet another touchy situation.

The Uruguayan forward got in close moments later but when Impact defender Matteo Ferrari cut in front of him, Perkins was able to pick up the ball. The Montreal goalkeeper also plucked an Anangono header out of the air in the 66th.

Fate was not kind to Perkins for the entire evening. The Impact ‘keeper failed to control the ball when preparing to clear it and the normally innocuous 74th-minute play resulted in a second goal for Mike Magee, who nudged it away, took a stride and shot, putting his side up and drawing to within a single goal of Di Vaio in the MLS scoring race.

Perkins was later booked for his sliding tackle on an incoming Patrick Nyarko, with Magee taking the resulting penalty kick but rattling it off the horizontal.

Magee did manage to beat Perkins on his next attempt, set up when Anangono reacquired the rebound of the shot that he rattled off the upright and got it to his fellow forward. With Perkins still stretched out on the pitch following the initial try, Magee shot only to have his hat trick denied by defender Hassoun Camara.

In the 87th minute, with all signs pointing to an impending “fortunate” 2-1 road loss, the Impact made one of its rare forays outside its end of the pitch. Arnaud, at the origin of the expedition, got the ball to Di Vaio and a combination of ineffective control on the Italian’s part and a less than adequate clearing attempt by Chicago defender Jeff Larentowicz resulted in Maxim Tissot, who had subbed in quietly for Justin Mapp 20 minutes earlier, heading it home for the first goal of his MLS career.

With 46 points on 29 games the Impact is in third spot on the MLS Eastern Conference ladder, five points out of first and as many above the sixth-place New England Revolution. Its next match takes them to Houston where it faces the Dynamo on Friday.

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