Home MLS Montreal Impact Tactical change pays off for Impact in victory over the Fire

Tactical change pays off for Impact in victory over the Fire

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A change was as good as a rest for the Montreal Impact ,who rebounded from an awful outing against Toronto on Wednesday to recapture the top spot in the MLS Eastern Conference, taking a 2-0 decision from the visiting Chicago Fire in front of 19,773 fans at Saputo Stadium.

Coach Marco Schallibaum abandoed the 4-1-4-1 scheme the side has played since the beginning of the season in favour of a 4-4-2, with newcomer Daniele Paponi joining fellow former Bologna alumnus Marco Di Vaio up top while Patrice Bernier began the game on the sidelines for the first time since the 2013 schedule got underway.

The strategy paid off for the Impact fans were treated to a game that had their heroes dominating from about the 30-minute mark on with Paponi and Di Vaio both finds the back of the net in the second half.

The opening 45 saw the visiting side take the play to their hosts but without converting, not that the Fire didn’t have opportunities.

Midfielder Patrick Nyarko had his shot from the top of the box deflected before it was controlled by Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who also made an important stop two minutes later on midfielder Jeff Larentowicz.

In the 19th, Fire captain Logan Pause had his kick at the can only to have Andres Romero rescue Alessandro Nesta from his awkward attempt at countering the drive.

As the half moved beyond the halfway mark, the momentum began to shift in the Impact’s favour. Defender Jeb Brovsky got the crowd up and cheering with his left-footed blast from 25 metres in the 29th minute. The shot found the outside of the mesh.

In the 32nd Di Vaio, forced Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson to make a diving save to keep the game scoreless while Paponi shot wide from 30 meters and Felipe sent his shot high and wide in the 38th, a chance that was made possible by a Hassoun Camara pass.

“I thought the first half we didn’t do too badly. We created some decent chances and all we were missing was the goal,” offered Captain Davy Arnaud. “We said to come out and keep pushing the game in the second half and the goal would come for us and it did.”

It came in the 57th minute, shortly after Nesta had given way to Wandrille Lefevre as a central defender. cored by Andres Romero, his first as an MLS player, the marker came as a result of a play initiated by Lefevre, who got the ball to Brovsky who then relayed it to the Argentine, who shot from the left side of the box.

Not a defender by trade or training, Lefevre did not expect to get the nod as Nesta’s replacement.

“I was surprised,” he admitted. “I knew I was going in in the next 45 seconds so there wasn’t even enough time to get stressed about it. I go in for Nesta, who is not just anybody so I just tried to do his job the best way I could. Not everything turned out perfectly but it could have been a lot worse so I’m happy.

“I’m a midfielder so I’m familiar with relaunching the attack from that position,” he continued. “As a central defender you have a bit more time to do that. It was important not to give the ball away and to maintain control of it. I tried to play a simple game and get the ball to Patrice (who came on as a sub) or Davy whenever I could and it worked out very well. It certainly helped that what was almost the first touch I had turned into a goal one pass later.”

Marco Di Vaio continued his scoring streak in the 76th minute, burying a pass from Paponi after stepping around an opponent, the play beginning with Justin Mapp who had entered the game in the 72nd and was credited with his 50th MLS assist.

Asked if the change in formation was something that would be repeated in the future, coach Schallibaum, replied, “As a coach you have to be flexible and able to put something fresh into the game. Today it worked well with everyone playing well together. Paponi did well, for his first time, getting a goal. He’s not in perfect condition yet, he complained of some cramping in the 75th minute but played the whole game. It’s a good sign for the future.”

Local rookie Lefevre also came in for some praise from his gaffer.

“Wandrille, who has never played there, replaced Alessandro Nesta and did the job very well. He came in cold, played a simple game and did it very well. I’ve always said that we aren’t 11 on this team, we’re 25.”

His thoughts on the team’s most recent Italian import were echoed by his captain, with Arnaud stating,”I think he did very well. Daniele’s a good player, he’s moving off the ball, he hassles the defenders defensively and that makes a huge difference for the team. He did a very good job of that and he’s a good addition.”

The Impact takea to the pitch once again on Wednesday for the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship, playing host to Toronto FC, who handily won the first game of the semi-final in what was Montreal’s poorest outing of the season so far.

THROW-INS: Patrice Bernier, started the day tied for the MLS lead in assists with three, all coming on game-winners, set a team record against Columbus on April 14 with his 22nd consecutive appearance. He extended it to 23 when he subbed in for Felipe in the 61st minute. Captain, Davy Arnaud made his 20th straight appearance in the Impact starting XI, coinciding with his 250th MLS start.

•Troy Perkins, tied for 8th among MLS ‘keepers with 22 saves has been ably assisted by the men in front of him so far this season. The rest of the roster has combined to block 25 shots directed toward the Montreal goal.

• Impact midfielder Justin Mapp, made 174 appearances with the Fire between 2003 and 2010. Both goalkeeper Evan Bush and midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic are products of the Chicago club’s Player Development Program.

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