Home MLS Montreal Impact Impact’s loss to New England puts playoff hopes in peril

Impact’s loss to New England puts playoff hopes in peril

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The Montreal Impact came up short again today, losing a 1-0 match to the visiting New England Revolution in front of over 18,000 spectators at Saputo Stadium. It was the Impact’s fifth game in a row, third at home, without coming away with a win, and had the team slipping closer to the red line that will separate the playoff bound teams from the also-rans.

“It’s always difficult to explain after a game like this one,” declared head coach Marco Schallibaum in his post-game comments. “In short we were not strong enough. We were not able to cause the other team any difficulty. The will was there but the quality was not. We took a goal in the first half and were chasing it the rest of the game. We were not strong in the last 20 metres. We were just not good today,” he concluded.

With Hassoun Camara serving a one-game suspension and Jeb Brovsky sidelined with a broken toe, Schallibaum played local boy, Maxim Tissot, and captain Davy Arnaud, normally a midfielder, on the outside of the back line with both doing creditable duty while regular central defenders Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari were once again paired at their posts.

The Impact was not let down by its defence, jury-rigged as it may have been, but by its more offensively minded players’ inability to link up and play with the cohesion needed to make anything positive happen in the Revs end of the pitch.

To its credit, the home side played a strong opening minute, nearly getting a shot on goal in the seconds following the opening whistle and holding its own for the first 10 minutes. But the game soon settled down into a familiar pattern that saw the visiting XI take it to their hosts, dominating both possession time and the number of shots directed at the enemy goal.

New England, directing nine balls towards the Montreal goal in the first 45 minutes, had the first kick at the can in the 10th, the shot coming off a third corner kick in rapid succession but was grabbed by Impact keeper Troy Perkins.

The Revs lost forward Saer Sene in the 19th minute when the tall Frenchman, playing up top, got tangled up in Arnaud’s legs. The Impact captain was fast to his feet, calling for the stretcher that carried Sene off the field and indicating that he thought the opponent’s leg was broken.

A 30-metre free kick at the half-hour mark was turned away but not cleared by the Montreal side. Defender Jose Goncalves drove it into the pink mesh behind Perkins in the 31st minute with an assist going to Lee Nguyen, who slid and deflected a Diego Fagundez cross back from the goal line and into the path of the team captain. Goncalves’s second of the season put the Impact behind the eight-ball and providing all the margin the visiting side needed to prevail.

Montreal got its only real chance in the 41st minute, a play that originated with Andres Romero. The Argentine midfielder carried the ball into enemy territory and into the penalty area. He passed to his right, finding with Marco Di Vaio but the Italian striker had his shot easily handled by Matt Reis in the New England goal.

Schallibaum sent a number of substitutes out in the hopes of stimulating his offence with Andrew Wenger and Felipe coming on for Romero and Patrice Bernier in the 57th and Blake Smith coming on for Justin Mapp in the 61st but to no avail and with very little overall effect on the Impact performance.

Wenger got the ball to Mapp in the minutes before the midfielder left the pitch due to an injury but he was unable to get a shot off.

New England came close to doubling ots lead on a Nguyen free kick in the 68th but the midfielder rattled it off the crossbar. Montreal countered and Reis and Wenger collided while going up for an aerial ball at the top of the penalty area. Reis was slow to get to his feet while Wenger earned the fourth yellow card shown to an Impact player.

Referee, Chris Penso, who had cautioned Sanna Nyassi in the 25th minute and both Romero and Ferrari in the 45th before taking the same measure against midfielder Nguyen in the seven minutes of added time tacked onto the opening half, also served Arnaud with one in the 82nd minute.

As a result of Penso’s decisions Schallibaum will be without the services of either Ferrari and Arnaud for Wednesday’s make-up game against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Among the few players meeting journalists following the loss, Felipe declared that the team members were sad they were not able to come away with three points that would have opened up some room between the Impact and the teams approaching the cutoff line from the south.

“I think the other teams know how we play now,” he offered. “So they make things difficult for us. We trained a lot for this game We worked a lot but it did not work. I think we have to comeback and sit down and talk and see what the difficulty is that we are having in this moment,” he continued.

“Now we have to go to Los Angeles and get the three points because at this time we’re in a difficult situation. Now we don’t depend only on ourselves. We have to win the game and come back for Philadelphia. We are strong enough to come back and give 100 per cent,” he concluded optimistically.

Midfielder Bernier was also less than thrilled with the Impact’s performance.

“We got a little lost,” he said. “We made a lot of errors and didn’t push as hard as we could have. We weren’t at the level we wanted to be in the first half, especially in a game as important as this one was. We were always second on the ball.”

The Impact leave Monday for Wednesday’s game against Los Angeles and return to host Philadelphia on Saturday.

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