This was an important game for the Montreal Impact as a victory would allow them to move into third place overall in the standings and solidify a place for them in the USL playoffs. They were facing the Minnesota Thunder, who are bellow them in the standings, so things looked good. However, they have been playing a lot lately with league and CONCACAF play. The team had only returned from Honduras (not exactly next door) just two days ago, so physical and mental fatigue could be an issue as the game wore on.
As the game began at the beautiful and sold out Saputo Stadium, it was mainly a midfield battle with possession going back and forth between the two teams in the middle portion of the pitch. One player on the Impact who stood out for me from the beginning and throughout his time on the pitch was left fullback Davy Uwimana (#27). He is so new to the team that they did not even have time to put his name on the back of his shirt. However, he made sure the crowd knew who he was with his sparkling play. With several good tackles and forays into the offensive third, he was always around the play and created several scoring chances with his skill and speed.
Midway through the first half the Impact started to impose themselves with several good chances. They had several good scoring chances, the best being a 30 yard shot by midfielder Sandro Grande (#12).
Somehow on a seemingly innocent foray into the Impact end the Thunder ended up scoring the first goal of the match. Thunder midfielder Stephane Deroux (#17) took a pass from striker Brian Cvilikas and lashed a bullet past Impact keeper Matt Jordan in off the left post in the 21st minute. Just like that it was 1-0 for the visitors despite the fact the Impact were dominating. Several times this season defensive breakdowns out of nowhere have ended up costing the Impact the game and the crowd had to hope this was not the case again.
Once play resumed the Impact resumed their domination and pressure. Scoring chances kept coming and they forced the Thunder goaltender Nicolas Platter (#12) to make some good saves. Grande had another good chance off a corner. The play was all in the Thunder end but no Impact goals. Finally off some pressure and a clever ball into the box to striker Peter Byers (#28) the Impact were awarded a penalty shot in the 45th minute. Grande takes it and strokes it into the lower left corner for a goal. This is the Impact's first penalty shot goal at their new stadium. An historic moment. It is tied 1-1 and that is how the first half ends.
In the second half the Impact seemed to slow down and maybe were tired due to all their play and travel lately. They certainly did not exert as much pressure and the Thunder took the play to them for parts of the second half. Goaltender Matt Jordan was forced into making some good saves and they were even lucky when a Thunder shot which beat him hit the crossbar.
The Impact did have a great scoring chance when Byers missed an open net, but when the final whistle went the Impact had to be content with a tie and one point. There is no real rest for the team as their next game will happen on Monday evening against the Portland Timbers at Saputo Stadium.
Carlsberg Impact Player of the Game: Sandro Grande