On this overcast but humid day, the Montreal Impact honoured their recently retired ex-captain and the man who owns almost all Impact records by retiring his number 20 uniform in a pre-game ceremony. This is the first time that the team has retired a jersey number. Mauro Biello played for the Impact 16 seasons, 344 regular season games, 40 playoffs games, scored 72 goals and had 65 assists (all 1st overall in Impact history). The man was everything for the team for a long time. Besides being a highly skilled player and a role model, Biello knew a thing or two about scoring important goals. A present-day Impact player who knows a thing or two about scoring big goals is Eduardo Sebrango.
Striker Eduardo Sebrango is on his second go around with the Montreal Impact. From 2002-2006 he was a big goal scorer for the team despite suffering some serious injuries. Then he was traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps where he continued to score important goals for that team. Now, at age 37, he is back with the Impact, but in a completely different role. In his second season back with the team he has become a mentor for the younger players and has embraced the role. Accepting that he is no longer a starter he has the right attitude. Sebrango applauds his teammates from the sideline and urges them on during warm up. On the field he shows them what dedication and knowing where to be when can bring to a team. Despite the fact that he was on the field for only 22 minutes Sebrango had a big impact.
This was the 11th regular season game for Impact and the first game between Montreal and Rochester this season. Once again the Impact are doing well in the standings (2nd place in the NASL Conference behind the Vancouver Whitecaps), but are having trouble finding the back of the net. In 10 games Montreal has only scored 8 goals while allowing 9 against.
At kick-off time the stands were not exactly full. Maybe fans stayed home to watch the Brazil vs. Ivory Coast game? Those that were there were barely in their seats when the home team found themselves behind 1-0. It started off innocently enough with the Rhinos having an innocuous looking free kick 40 yards out on the left side. Fullback Jonathan Greenfield played a ball into the penalty area and somehow rangy fullback Aaron Pitchkolan managed to get away from the coverage by Stephen deRoux to head the ball past a stunned Srdjan Djekanovic.
Just like that 4 minutes into game the Impact, who have a hard time scoring, found themselves behind 1-0. Owning a 2-1-2 home record so far this season is just not good enough for a team with ideas of defending their championship. Losing or a tie just isn't good enough for the Impact. They must start winning their home games as they cannot afford to drop more points.
After some bumpy defensive moments at the beginning of the game the Impact tightened up and started taking control of the game. The Rochester defence looked like one that Montreal would get some chances off of. And they did. Leonardo Di Lorenzo in the 15th minute having a clear shot from 20 yards out, but putting it right at the keeper, Tony Donatelli heading the ball over the crossbar in the 19th minute, Peter Byers shot is blocked in the 27th minute, and Di Lorenzo's free kick in the 45th minute deflected just over the crossbar. While they are not great chances, they are chances. Montreal was in total control of the game. Rochester was hardly able to get control of the ball at all and definitely had no sniffs at the Impact goal.
The only shot that Rochester had in the 1st half was the goal by Pitchkolan. Montreal had 6 shots. They need to create some good scoring chances, but the first good scoring chance of the 2nd half was by Rochester. In the 52nd minute midfielder Jamie Franks uncorked a low shot that Djekanovic seemed unprepared for, but luckily for him it only found wood (the post) and not twine.
Montreal continued to control the ball, but did not manage to create clear cut scoring chances. That is until Eduardo Sebrango came on in the 71st minute in relief of Byers. It only took 8 minutes for Sebrango to notch another in a long line of important goals for the team he is playing for. Roberto Brown started the play off by finding fullback Philippe Billy alone on the right side. Billy crossed the ball into the Rochester 6 yard box finding Sebrango unmarked and Eduardo headed it forcefully into the corner of the net for his first goal of the campaign. The man knows how to score big goals!
Though a tie was not what they were looking for the Impact had to be pretty happy with the game they played. They totally dominated the Rhinos. The Impact deserved a victory. It was probably one of the better 90 minutes they have played this year.
The Impact's next game will be in Cary, North Carolina versus the RailHawks on Saturday, June 26th. It's back on the road for the Impact.
-Officials: Referee: John Oliva
Linesmen: Michael Lambert and Marie-Josée Charbonneau
-Goals: 1st Half:
4th Minute – Rochester – Aaron Pitchkolan assisted by Jonathan Greenfield
79th Minute – Montreal – Eduardo Sebrango assisted by Philippe Billy
84th minute – Rochester – Timothy Gore – Yellow
90th minute – Rochester – Aaron Pitchkolan – Yellow
-Shots: Montreal: 9
-Saves: Montreal: 0
-Corners: Montreal: 6
-Setanta Man of the Match: Philippe Billy
-Final Score: Montreal: 1