Home MLS Montreal Impact Ricketts’s goalkeeping heroics against his former team allows Impact to draw Galaxy

Ricketts’s goalkeeping heroics against his former team allows Impact to draw Galaxy

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A new Canadian record crowd for pro soccer turned up at Olympic Stadium for this afternoon’s match against the MLS reigning champs, with very few of the 60,860 leaving the park unsatisfied with the spectacle .

The teams fought a tough, physical battle with the home side dominating the opening 45 minutes, scoring their goal early and the visiting LA Galaxy evening the score in the second half, with keeper Donovan Ricketts providing the biggest reason that his old club left town with a single point rather than handing the Impact its first MLS defeat in Montreal. Final score: Impact 1, Galaxy 1.

The first half saw the Galaxy holding a decided edge in possession time as well as the both the number and proportion of passes completed, but ended with the home side a goal up.

The Impact marker came in the eighth minute of play, the result of a sortie that began with a long Nelson Rivas pass out of the defensive zone that found Bernardo Corradi. The Italian striker moved it up to captain, Davy Arnaud, normally a midfielder but starting up front today, who put it easily behind Galaxy ‘keeper, Brian Perk, making his first start of the season.

“We knew before the game that their centre backs were a little smaller and we had a big guy up top with Bernardo, who does a good job of flicking balls on,” said Arnaud after the game. “He just said that when the ball is going up in the air to him, to just run off him and that’s what I tried to do and I got in on a breakaway. He flicked it and put it in a really good spot.”

Montreal out-chanced L.A. in the early going with most of their attempts arising from open-play situations while Los Angeles got its opportunities on set pieces, most of them taken by David Beckham, who has dominated Montreal sports pages since his team hit town.

Twenty minutes in, Lamar Neagle drove up the right side and rather than pass to Felipe, running alongside him a few metres over, shot and had his drive roll wide to Perk’s left.

While David Beckham may be the league’s marquee player, the Montreal crowd seemed to be of two minds about the English midfielder, affording him the biggest cheer of the day during player introductions but jeering, rather than cheering, every time he touched the ball.

The second half saw the wind fill the visiting team’s sails and provided fans with numerous opportunities to cheer their goalkeeper as Ricketts made all the difference, stopping all but one of the six shots that the Galaxy put on target. The Jamaican was simply spectacular as he dove left and right to make saves on every chance but the 61st-minute free kick awarded to Beckham, who unerringly put the ball into the upper right corner of the Montreal net.

The former Manchester United midfielder took 10 corner kicks as well as numerous free kicks on the afternoon.

Landon Donovan, the regular recipient of Beckham’s largesse, shared his impressions after the game.

“I think we actually did a pretty good job in the second half. Actually the whole game wasn’t too bad, the second half was great,” he offered. “I’m guessing that if it was any of a number of other goalkeepers playing for them today it would have been a different score and we would have won but Donovan did a good job and they held on. I think a few players thought they had him on a few plays but he made some good saves and got them a point.”

Montreal coach Jesse Marsch, speaking in French once again to open his remarks declared himself satisfied with his troops’ efforts, even thought the result may have been mitigated by the fact that the Impact was playing their fifth game in 15 days.

“It was a difficult game because L.A. is a good team and the Montreal players were very tired. In the past two weeks it has been difficult but the players worked hard and played well,” he opened.

“I think in the first half there were maybe some moments when I thought we could make it 2-0. The second half they got themselves going. Their gifted players like Donovan, (Robbie)Keane and Beckham now start to have a little bit more space, start to have a little bit more time and start being able to make a few more plays. Beckham scores a very good goal and we’re kind of hanging on.

“We came in here with some heavy legs, played against a good team and managed to get a point. We still have not lost a game in this stadium so that’s a positive as well,” he concluded.

Montreal takes on New York Red Bulls next Saturday, in the final encounter scheduled for Olympic Stadium prior to the June 16 scheduled opening of the renovated and enlarged Saputo Stadium.

The Galaxy return to L.A. by way of Washington D.C., where the players will be honoured Wednesday by President Barack Obama on the White House grounds for their 2011 MLS Cup victory and participate in a youth soccer clinic following the ceremony.

• Impact forward Sanna Nyassi has four yellow cards to this point in the season. The next one he receives will be accompanied by a one-game suspension.
• Montreal captain, Davy Arnaud, who played in his 250th MLS game last week against Sporting Kansas City, leads all Impact players when it comes to scoring stats against the Galaxy with six goals and three assists in 21 games against the Los Angeles side.

• Impact goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts (2009-2011) and defender Shavar Thomas (2007) both wore Galaxy colours earlier in their careers while LA keeper Bill Gaudette played for the Impact last season, appearing in nine games before losing the rest of his season to injury.


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