Ouimette’s late winner gives Impact a vital three points By Mike Wyman Posted on October 19, 2013 1 0 669 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Karl Ouimette Killing two birds with one stone, the Montreal Impact kept its postseason hopes alive, coming from behind to defeat the Philadelphia Union 2-1 in a rugged encounter before an announced crowd of 18,993 at Saputo Stadium, registering the team’s first-ever October victory. The win leapfrogs the Impact out of a three-way tie for fourth place, over Houston and into third spot on the MLS Eastern Conference ladder pending the outcome of the rest of the weekend’s matches and lifts a large weight off the team’s shoulders as it heads to Toronto next weekend for the last regular season game of the 2013 schedule. While the Impact came out of the opening half down a goal, things looked good for the host side in the early going, with Justin Mapp and Davy Arnaud both getting in close to the goal defended by Zac MacMath. Mapp’s play from the left side ended when his pass to Felipe was intercepted by a Union defender while the Impact captain, attacking from the left side, elected to pass rather than take a shot on goal himself and watched as his centring attempt was deflected out of bounds. Marco Schallibaum’s men posed another threat in the seventh minute when a give-and-go between Mapp and defender Hassoun Camara resulted in a flurry of action ending with a Marco Di Vaio try going over the goal. Despite holding an edge in possession time, battles won and passing (both attempts and completions), came out of the first 45 down a goal and without having placed a single shot on goal while the visitors directed eight towards Impact keeper Troy Perkins’ end of the pitch. One of the few bright spots for the home side was the play of Karl Ouimette. Inserted at left back in place of an injured Jeb Brovsky, he was among the more energetic Impact performers in the first period, clearing a number of balls out of harm’s way, trying mightily to contain Union forward Conor Casey, the biggest man on the pitch, and usually succeeding in countering one of the Philadelphia side’s top scoring threats this season. While he handled the task respectably for the most part he did have a spot of trouble battling the forward who looked more like vintage grappler, Paul Vachon, than Pele on the pitch, in the 16th minute when his attempt to relieve Casey of the ball ended with the rookie defender being tossed aside like a rag doll. Montreal’s best chance of the first half came in the 22nd minute. While the home side applied pressure, hemming the Union in its penalty area, Di Vaio, Patrice Bernier and Ouimette all took shots but none made it through to MacMath. Fabinho delivered the ball to Casey on a corner in the 24th but the forward headed one off the horizontal in the 24th. Philadelphia took the lead on the only goal of the opening 45, a 29th-minute marker off the boot of Fabinho that Perkins got a hand on and deflected upwards but not high enough, as it slipped inside the near post and into the upper mesh, the Brazilian notching his first MLS goal to put his team in front. Benefiting from a Schallibaum pep talk during the interval, the Impact came out determined to go for the glory in the second half, potting a pair and taking the match, their first win in seven games coming when they needed it the most. “I told them I felt that they wanted to win but that I didn’t think wanting was enough. I also said that I felt we could turn the game around,” said Schallibaum when asked what message he addressed to his troops. “We did and I’m very proud of everyone on the team. We have had some difficult weeks and this is a kind of liberation. I’m happy for everyone because we deserved this win, it’s a good moment for us.” It was a radically reoriented Impact squad that came out for the 46th minute of play. Unable to put a single one of only four shots on frame in the first go-round, the homes side launched 14 towards MacMath’s net, with three of them finding the mark and two of them eluding the Union goalkeeper. The first came in the 64th minute and made Di Vaio the first man to 20 goals in the league this season and only the 11th to hit the mark in league history. “Marco is a 100 per cent professional. He played three games, 90 minutes this week and he ran hard in the second half,” said Schallibaum. “It’s an excellent thing that he signed to come back next year because he is a leader no matter where he goes. I give thanks for players like him every morning when I wake up. He’s someone I appreciate not only on a human level but also for what he does for the club on the pitch.” “We knew that we couldn’t go on the way we had been in the last five or six games. We had to do something more because it was our last chance and we are not the team that played the last five or six games,” said Di Vaio. “We came back very strong in the second half. We gave everything we had on the pitch and we won a very big, very important match.” Asked what it meant on a personal level to become the 1th MLS player to reach the 20-goal plateau the Italian striker quickly turned the talk to things collective. “It’s good for me. It’s good for the team because, like I’ve already said, if I score a goal and we don’t play up to our level it’s not enough, I’m not happy. With the goal maybe we’ll make the playoffs and I’m very happy because this is important to me. I hope that we get into the series after next week’s game in Toronto. We’ll see.” The Di Vaio goal energized the Saputo Stadium crowd and resulted in a redoubling of effort on the part of the Impact, who continued to take the play to the Union. In the 70th Arnaud drove up the left flank and delivered a surgically precise cross to Di Vaio, but the sliding Italian striker put the ball over the goal. Two minutes later Alessandro Nesta and Raymon Gaddis got into a bit of a scuffle near the benches that required fourth official Geoff Gamble to separate the players while play went on and the Impact challenged the Union goal. No discipline was handed out but a surprised Gaddis was the recipient of a kiss and hug as a feigned apology from the former Milan defender. Felipe put one over the goal in the 74th and Di Vaio had an opportunity but was unable to convert a long pass from the Brazilian midfielder two minutes later. An alert Perkins grabbed a sharply redirected header by Leo Fernandez in the 82nd but hero time came off a set play in the 85th, courtesy of Karl Ouimette. Gaddis fouled Mapp and the midfielder took his free kick from a good 30 metres out, landing it in the six-metre box where it was met by a diving Ouimette, who headed it into the mesh. “It sort of happened all by itself. I turned around, the ball was there and I put it in,” the happy youngster declared after the game. “After that I didn’t know what to do. It was a good thing everyone jumped on me because otherwise I wouldn’t have had any idea how to react.” The Impact take it down the 401 for next Saturday’s game, ending the regular season against Toronto FC. THROW-INS: A pregame ceremony celebrated the career of defender Alessandro Nesta. Touted in some circles as the best-ever at his position, the Italian superstar has spent the past two seasons in Impact colours and was presented with a large painting by a local artist picturing the street he will live on for a few more weeks in Montreal • Montreal defender Hassoun Camara was in the starting lineup for a 50th time in his MLS career. Union midfielder Conor Casey made his 125th career start for the Union. • Marco Di Vaio’s goal this afternoon was the 25th he has registered in MLS competition.