Home MLS Montreal Impact Loss at Houston sees Impact slide down Eastern Conference table

Loss at Houston sees Impact slide down Eastern Conference table


For it to be a virtual replay of the Impact’s outing against Chicago last week, all that was missing from Friday evening’s game against the Houston Dynamo was a late-game tying goal to allow the Montreal side to escape with a largely unearned point. As a result of the 1-0 defeat, Marco Schallibaum’s crew traded slots on the MLS Eastern Conference ladder with their hosts and are now fourth with 46 points on 30 games, one point behind Houston and only three ahead of fifth-place Chicago.

The home side took the initiative early, getting a first try three minutes in with Bobby Boswell heading an Oscar Boniek Garcia service over the bar, before taking the lead in the sixth.

The only goal of the match was a beauty. Garcia sent a long pas in towards the Montreal goal. Chested deftly from forward Giles Barnes to Ricardo Clark, the midfielder controlled the ball with his first touch, spun and sent an arcing shot off the inside of the left upright and into the mesh behind Troy Perkins for the first goal the Dynamo has scored against the Impact this season.

The pace slowed for the rest of the opening 45 minutes as the host side controlled play, got a few more chances and only rarely allowed Montreal to control the ball. When Impact players did mange to gain control, they were unable to move the play towards the enemy end.

Montreal’s static play and lack of energy, particularly in the midfield and possibly due to a 38 C Humidex rating, nearly resulted in a doubling of the Dynamo lead in the 23rd. Garcia wove his way towards the goal, regaining the ball after a give-and-go exchange with fellow midfielder Brad Davis, but shot wide.

As the final minutes of the opening period ticked off, the Impact showed flickers of life. Justin Mapp, just about the only Impact player who seemed energized for the game, beat defender Corey Ashe on the right side but his cross found no takers. Felipe got his side’s only shot on goal but it was propelled directly at Tally Hall and easily punched away by the Houston goalkeeper.

The second half was no improvement on the first for the Impact and opened with multiple opportunities from the Dynamo. Barnes took a shot from the left side and was thwarted in his effort by Perkins in the 47th. A minute later Clark, left unattended at the top of the semi-circle, sent his attempt over the bar.

Perkins pushed a Davis drive over the goal in the 52nd minute and received very little support on the 54th minute header that Barnes put high on a Davis corner. Barnes and Clark combined to produce a shot that also missed the mark.

Impact midfielder Mapp scrambled up the right side in the 58th, one of very few forays into enemy territory the team made but, without support from the other guys dressed in blue, his adventure didn’t result in a shot.

Schallibaum changed things up somewhat earlier than has been his habit with Marco Di Vaio giving way to Andrew Wenger after picking up an injury in the 63rd and speedy Sanna Nyassi taking Felipe off two minutes later.

Montreal showed signs of breaking out of its torpor in the 69th minute and, as happened last week against Chicago, a less-than-alert referee denied the team a chance to draw even in a game in which it was being outplayed.

When a Wenger centre found the Texas-born Impact captain alone, unmarked and with all the time in the world, Davy Arnaud had the leisure to set, aim and fire. He did but bounced his shot off the elbow of Dynamo defender, Boswell, an infraction clearly caught by the broadcast camera but that went unnoticed by the officiating crew.

Wenger had another look in the 74th but missed to the left of Hall’s goal. Andres Romero, subbed in for Wandrille Lefevre in the 80th, had Montreal’s last kick at the can in the 80th, getting in behind the Houston back line but rattling his shot off Hall’s shins.

The victory stretched Houston’s record this season when scoring the first goal to 12-0-3.

Montreal’s next games, critical to extending its playoff hopes, are at home and will have the team hosting New England next Saturday and Philadelphia a week later.

THROW-INS: If Marco Di Vaio gets to 20 goals in 2013 before a player from another team does, he will become only the 11th man to reach that plateau in MLS competition.

• Impact defender Hassoun Camara will be watching next Saturday’s game from the stands, having been cautioned for a fifth time this year.


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One Comment

  1. footy

    October 5, 2013 at 9:17 am

    With 4 games still in hand, reaching the playoffs should still be no problem. 2 home games and the last one against TFC should do it.They should get at least 7 of 9 points and that will settle the deal.

    The youngsters are playing though, even Zakaria was on the bench yesterday! On the other it just go to show that if the Impact can’t field the first 11, quality of play goes down pretty fast.

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