Red-hot Impact makes a statement with win over league-topping Quakes By Mike Wyman Posted on August 19, 2012 0 0 529 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Patrice Bernier The Montreal Impact continued its drive toward the playoffs this evening with a decisive 3-1 victory over the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes in front of a sold-out house of 19,441. It was a game that featured rugged physical play, three ejections and two penalty conversions before the home side prevailed, its fourth consecutive win and fifth straight triumph at home. The opening half finished tied a one goal apiece, with San Jose drawing first blood on a penalty taken by MLS scoring leader Chris Wondolowski, who potted his 18th of the present campaign after both the Impact’s Hassoun Camara and Earthquake Steven Lenhart, author of extra-time heroics in each of the visiting side’s last two game, were ejected following an exchange of elbows that displeased referee Armando Villarreal. After the exclusions, right-side defender Jeb Brovsky filled in at central defence, acquitting himself more than competently in the unfamiliar post, drawing plaudits from Jesse Marsch who characterized his performance in the unfamiliar position as “outstanding” and his team’s effort as its best match of the season. The San Jose lead stood for all of two minutes before it was nullified by Marco Di Vaio, who roofed a pass from midfielder Felipe in the 25th minute. “We played a good game,” the Italian striker declared, “ I’m very happy for the team and for myself because it was the first time my family came to a game and I wanted to score a goal,” he continued before addressing the Impact’s present functioning. “We have found a balance on the team. We play with confidence. We played a great game today.” Going into the interval deadlocked at a goal each, San Jose dominated possession time and battles won, but the second 45 saw the home side gain the advantage and put two more balls behind Jon Busch before the clock ticked down. Opening the second half at 10 men a side, Montreal slowly began to take the initiative, becoming the dominant team as the game rolled along, multiplying its offensive opportunities. Wondolowski got the first kick at the can but sent Justin Morrow’s pass wide of Troy Perkins goal. In the 57th minute Busch’s diving sortie robbed Lamar Neagle of a goal but the Federal Way, Wash. Native came right back four minutes later to have his name put into the scorebook. Patrice Bernier bobbled the ball, almost losing control of it inside the penalty area, which seemed to confuse the Earthquakes defense. He got the ball back to an unmarked Neagle at the top of the 18 metre-box in the 62nd minute. The Montreal midfielder sent it flying into the net to give the Impact a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. “When you don’t play that much when you get on the field you have to make an impact and I think I did well this game,” Neagle said. Asked about his goal, the Washington State native said, “In the first half we didn’t have much possession in their end. So in the second half that was one thing we definitely wanted to do. “The build-up before the goal was good. Patrice got it in the box and he bounced it right back to me. The goaltender was blocked or something.” Ten minutes later Bernier converted a penalty kick with his now-familiar hesitating approach to the ball, putting a cap on the game’s scoring and giving the his side a decisive victory in its still-possible try for postseason participation. The goal was the 39th of the season for the expansion side, only one shy of Portland’s MLS record for a first-year team. Montreal’s next game is at Saputo Stadium next Saturday when they it hosts D.C. United THROW-INS – Impact players were recognized once again this week with Felipe’s spectacular marker against the Revolution receiving Goal of the Week honours while goalkeeper Troy Perkins got the nod for the Stop of the Week for his masterful deflection of a New England shot. • Both teams had players called up for the mid-week international friendlies. Montreal’s Patrice Bernier and Evan James joined the Canadian squad while Shavar Thomas suited up for Jamaica. Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski, Steven Beitashour and Alan Gordon played for the U.S. and the Honduran team included Victor Bernardez and Marvin Chavez. • Montreal goalkeeper coach, Preston Burpo, spent part of the 2008 season in San Jose. Midfielder Joey Gjertsen, prevented by knee surgery from seeing any playing time this season with the ‘Quakes, spent from 2007 to 2009 with the Impact. • The Impact is running second in MLS attendance for 2012 with 307,163 fans going through the Montreal turnstiles, an average of 23,628 bodies in seats per game. The team drew 175,488 in their five matches at Olympic Stadium for an average of 35,098 for that venue and, averaging 15,584 per game for the first eight fixtures at Saputo Stadium, have attracted 124,675 since moving back home.