Home MLS Montreal Impact Impact’s win streak ends at four, as SKC overwhelms the visitors

Impact’s win streak ends at four, as SKC overwhelms the visitors

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The Montreal Impact served up a synopsis of its 2012 campaign, giving up one goal early, another one late and ending the game with an assistant coach holding the reins in Saturday’s 2-0 road loss to Sporting Kansas City — a match that could have ended in an embarrassing rout.

Loaning Kei Kamara up the soccer food chain has not left SKC short on firepower. Incoming Designated Player Claudio Bieler, who potted the first SKC goal, more than makes up for the departure and he has all the help needed. Fellow forwards Graham Zusi, author of the second, and C.J, Sapong were threats all evening and were consistently fed by Benny Feilhaber, who ended the game with assists on both markers.

Completely dominated in the opening half, Montreal gave up the first goal only five minutes after play got underway. A short pass from Feilhaber found Bieler at the top of the box and the Argentina-born forward slipped in inside the post to the left of Impact keeper Troy Perkins.

Showing very little cohesion, the Impact chased the ball rather than play it, losing the vast majority of the battles and spending the bulk of the half in its own third of the pitch. On the few occasions Impact players were able to venture beyond mid-field, the first coming almost 20 minutes into the match, their forays came to naught, largely due to the effective play of Aurelien Collin, who blanketed and neutralized Marco Di Vaio.

Modifying his 4-1-4-1 slightly at about the half-hour mark, Impact head coach Marco Schallibaum had Felipe drop back to provide support for Patrice Bernier, anchor of the team in the four-game run that opened the season but who was having a difficult time of it in the fifth. The move did not significantly change the pace or flow of the game as Kansas City continued to press an embattled visiting defence.

The opening half came to an end with the home side holding a one-goal lead but one that could have been larger with a little good fortune. Bieler headed a Zusi service over the Montreal net in the 23rd minute. With only a minute or two to go he took advantage of an indecisive first touch by defender Karl Ouimette to drive the ball goalward only to have Perkins make the stop.

Opening the second 45 as they did the first, SKC took it to Montreal as the teams got underway with defender Chance Myers coming to the fore on two occasions, charging up the pitch with the ball in the 49th minute only to put it just wide of the goal and then, two minutes later, heading a corner kick over the woodwork.

Defender Seth Sinovic, a Kansas City native who was briefly property of the expansion Impact but had no more interest in playing in Montreal than did Brian Ching, had his kick at the can too, his shot from just inside the line rolling across the goalmouth and out of play just beyond the far post.

Di Vaio had his only opportunity of the evening an hour into the game. His unexpected drive, originating with a Bernier pass, provided Jimmy Nielsen with the only shot the Danish keeper had to face.

Schallibaum pulled Andres Romero and Felipe at the 60-minute mark, sending Andrew Wenger and Sanna Nyassi in with the hopes of perking up the offence to no avail, although the Impact did seem a little less overwhelmed in the second half than it was in the first.

Ten minutes from the end of regular time Feilhaber was the instigator of the second Kansas City goal, finding Zusi and getting the ball through to him. The American international battled Ouimette for 15 metres before gaining the positional advantage. He waited patiently until Perkins blinked and then gently rolled the ball into the space vacated by the Montreal ‘keeper.

Schallibaum was sent from the sidelines in the 82nd minute. It would seem he threw water (or a water bottle) towards referee, Jorge Gonzales.

With the Impact rescheduling next weekend’s game against Los Angeles to make things a little easier for the Galaxy in their non-MLS efforts, the team has two weeks to either dwell on or digest its first loss of the still-young season.

Rookie Blake Smith, Montreal’s first choice in this year’s Superdraft, played his first minutes in MLS today, replacing Di Vaio in the 78th minute.

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