Soccer is a game that continues on no matter the conditions. A game is played unless there is lightening. It is never too hot or rainy for a soccer game. It was a rainy and dreary Sunday afternoon in Montreal that saw the Impact take on Miami FC. The game was an announced sell-out making it the team's third of the season and second in a row. But in actuality because of the lousy weather and the incredible traffic due to street closures because of the annual Tour de L'Ile bike race the number of people in the stands were probably more around the 4,000 mark rather than the 13,034 sell-out figure. And many left during the game as the rain did not let up. It was only the "true" Impact fans who braved the weather and traffic to come to this game.
For Montreal's 8th game of the season they would be facing Miami FC, a team they had tied 6 times out of the 12 times they have played them. After a busy month of May that saw them play 9 games, the Impact's most recent game was a friendly versus the Italian Serie A team AC Milan. Despite a 4-1 loss, that game was filled with happy moments for the team and 47,861 fans alike. Unfortunately the same can not be said about this USSF-Div 2 regular season game.
The previous Impact record versus Miami did not really mean much coming into the game as the Miami team is completely different from last season. With a new owner, new uniforms and about 90% of its roster being new the Miami team would be a hard one to read for Montreal. The Miami record (1-2-5) coming into the game is also a hard one to read as they have only lost 2 games, but have only won one. Five of Miami's games have resulted in ties.
Though the roster has changed drastically, the Impact know that Miami FC is a technical team that plays a South American style of game with ball possession and pressing forward. Miami's game is not about sitting back, so should result (if conditions allow for it) in an entertaining game. That particular style of play matches up nicely with the Impact as they tend to focus on solid defensive play and ball possession.
A win for the Impact would have meant them moving ahead of Vancouver to 1st place in the NASL conference. The line-up for the Impact to start the game was a slightly different one with Philippe Billy starting at right fullback in place of Adam Braz (he came on for Stephen deRoux to start the 2nd half), Simon Gatti starting in the midfield in the place of the injured Stefano Pesoli (foot), Peter Byers and Roberto Brown starting as the striker tandem, and backup keeper Srdjan Djekanovic starting for Matt Jordon, who will be out a couple of weeks with a leg injury suffered against AC Milan.
The game saw Montreal come out sluggishly and Miami punished them for their lack of readiness. In the 9th minute of play Miami won a corner which wasn't the best taken, but it found it's way into the Montreal 18 yard box began to bounce around and before you could say "goal" the ball was bulging the twine behind DJekanovic. David Testo could not clear the corner and it bounced to Miami midfielder Christian Gomez who shot immediately and some bad luck occurred when the ball deflected off two Montreal players (Philippe Billy and Hicham Aaboubou) giving Djekanovic no chance to stop it.
With the conditions making the pitch slippery which discouraged any fancy dribbling and the temperature cold, an early 1-0 deficit was not great for the home side. The goal did seem to wake up the Impact as they began to press forward.
In the 22nd minute, defender Billy, who is beginning to look more and more at ease as a fullback, launched a perfect cross from the right side into the penalty area causing some panic amongst the Miami defenders. So much so that one of them pulled Byers down forcing referee Geoff Gamble to award a penalty shot to Montreal.
Midfielder Tony Donatelli, who seems to be the team's designated penalty taker, took the shot and scored, but it was not as simple as it sounds. Miami keeper Caleb Patterson guessed the correct side to dive to on the shot and managed to get a hand on it, but because of the slick conditions and the strength behind the shot it deflected off him into the net. Phew!
In the 23rd minute the game was knotted at 1-1. At this point you had to wonder if it was going to be a high scoring game. That was unfortunately all she wrote in regards to goals. Each team did have some scoring chances though.
Shortly after Montreal tied the score Djekanovic was forced in the 29th minute to come up with his best save of the game off a Gomez free kick which he punched over the crossbar. Patterson also had to be at his best on two Leonardo Di Lorenzo shots – in the 20th minute off a low shot and again at the 60 minute mark from a free kick that Di Lorenzo bent around the Miami wall. Impact sub Rocco Placentino also had a couple of chances, including one that Patterson deflected off the crossbar, but could not score.
The Miami players threw their hands up at the final whistle showing that they were happy with the 1 point on the road; I don't think any Impact player was happy. Montreal has to find a way to win their home games. Though they had the better scoring chances it just wasn't good enough. It is doubly disappointing that the Impact could not pick up the full 3 points at home because Montreal's next two games are on the road against Minnesota and Tampa Bay.
-Officials: Referee: Geoff Gamble
Linesmen: Richard Gamache and Marie-Josée Charbonneau
-Goals : 1st Half :
9th minute – Miami – Christian Gomez
23rd minute – Montreal – (pk) Tony Donatelli
-Shots: Montreal: 10
-Saves: Montreal: 2
-Corners: Montreal: 5
-Attendance: 13,034 (sell-out)
-Setanta Man of the Match: Tony Donatelli
-Final Score: Montreal: 1