Montreal Impact vs. Colorado Rapids @ Saputo Stadium – June 29, 2013

Montreal Impact came into this game in 1st place in the East and undefeated at home.  Colorado was on a 3 game losing streak.  For most that would be classified as a sure win for the Impact whereas for me I was nervous.  Colorado was like an injured dog and could not be trusted.  It seemed like a game ripe with potential for an upset.  Unfortunately me feeling came to be reality.

On a beautiful summer evening Montreal would have to be aware during the first 15 minutes of the game.  Colorado is a young team and tends to really come out strong during their games.  Montreal, in their all blue kits, would be playing in their 4-4-2 formation with the Italian connection of Marco Di Vaio and Paponi up front.  The Argentinian Andres Romero and Italian Andrea Pisanu would be playing the outside midfield positions though captain Davy Arnaud would be on the bench for the first time since April 27th after battling a concussion if either of them falters.

It was a game with plenty of scoring chances, plenty of atmosphere and lots of goals for a soccer game.  The game’s first real scoring chance happens early in the 7th minute when Di Vaio ran onto a ball and then cut inside to his right foot leaving two Rapids’ defenders in his wake.  It was only the tackle of German Mera.  The second scoring chance again came courtesy of Di Vaio in the 12th minute.  Once again it started off along the left side and he cut inside to his right foot.  At this point 10 yards from goal he took a shot, but unfortunately it was a weak one right at Rapids’ keeper Clint Irwin.

The Rapids had their first scoring chance in the 14th minute and it would be a sign of things to come.  Midfielder Romero had trouble defensively all game long.  He often let his player get behind him.  This time it led to a close in chance by Dillon Powers.  Thankfully his powerful shot along the ground was right at Troy Perkins, who stopped it and did not allow a rebound.

It was in the 24th minute that the visitors opened the scoring.  Colorado was awarded a free kick from 35 yards out in a central position after Alessandro Nesta made a clumsy tackle.  Powers took the free kick and the marking on Atiba Harris was not close enough by Romero and Hassoun Camara as such he was able to get up and over them to get his head on it and powerfully direct the ball into the far corner past the diving Perkins.

Making up for his part in the first goal, Hassoun Camara scored in his usual spectacular fashion.  In the 38th minute Montreal earned a corner kick.  It was taken by Pisanu.  Rapids’ keeper Irwin went to the ground in the ensuing scramble.  On the ground also was Camara, but he did not let that stop him.  The ball came to him while he was on his back.  Amazingly he popped the ball up to himself and then managed an amazing bicycle kick into the empty net.

The goal sparked Montreal as Di Vaio had another scoring chance in the 41st minute and the crowd was really vocal.  The sound quieted a little when Matteo Ferrari almost put the ball into his own net in the 42nd minute.  A ball deflected off the defender as he was tied up with his man and got beyond Perkins only to hit the crossbar.  Montreal took the ball up the field and Di Vaio played a nicely weighted ball into Paponi just outside the 18 yard box.  Paponi cut inside and unleashed a precise shot into the far side of the net.  This was Paponi’s 1st goal in an Impact uniform and his 1st in the MLS.

Montreal seemed to have regained control of the match so it was unfortunate that it was right before half time.  The momentum they gained was cut and it was Colorado that came out of the half to score the first goal of the 2nd half.  Colorado knotted up the game at 2-2 courtesy of a goal in the 59th minute by Dillon Powers.  Midfielder Nathan Sturgis crossed a low ball in from the right hand side and somehow Powers was left unmarked inside the box.  Once again Romero let his man get away from him in a dangerous area.  He one-timed a shot into the net on the short side.  It was not the first or last time that the Montreal defenders would stand around looking at one another and seeming to not really know what was going on.

The goals kept coming in this entertaining game.  Once again Montreal took the lead.  The play started with a great touch by Camara who pushed the ball forward to Felipe.  Felipe played the ball from the right side to the left down to the end line where through plenty of hustle by a sliding Davy Arnaud, who came into the game in the 58th minute for Pisanu, got it and played the ball back in front of the Colorado net.  Paponi, showing a goal scorers nose for the net, was in the right place at the right time and slid then one timed the ball in the air past Irwin.

That was not all for goals.  In the 77th minute Colorado once again fought back to tie the game at 3-3.  It was the same old story with a Rapids’ player left alone inside the Montreal 18 yard box.  Christopher Klute crossed the ball and Deshorn Brown one timed it from close in giving Perkins no chance.  Coach Marco Schallibaum was furious at the referee after the goal because he allowed the play to continue even though Paponi went down injured just outside the Montreal box.

Late in the game at the 86th minute the Di Vaio –Felipe combination worked their magic and created a scoring chance for the Brazilian.  A cheeky little backheel from Di Vaio sprung Felipe, whose shot from 16 yards out was stopped by Irwin.

With all the substitutions, fouls and yellow cards given in the game 5 minutes was added on to the 2nd half.  One comment related to this is that referees really have to start clamping down on delay tactics by players.  Goalies who take and eternity to take goal kicks and players going off for substitutes that walk slower than turtles have to be dealt with.  A couple of yellow cards should set them straight.

Every fan in attendance was hoping that these few precious minutes would be enough for Montreal to score the winning goal.  Montreal did exert plenty of pressure spending long spells in Colorado’s end during the injury time.  Maybe they pushed a little too hard as it left them exposed at the back when a deflection off Patrice Bernier came to Arnaud about 30 yards out.  Instead of playing the ball in first time realizing that only Ferrari was behind him Arnaud tried to go around a player and ended up losing the ball.  It was then off to the races for Chris Klute, who brought the ball up almost the entire field to try to square a ball over only to have it deflect off Ferrari to land at the feet of Tony Cascio.  Cascio’s shot deflected off Patrice Bernier to elude the diving Perkins. Another mistake lead to a goal for Colorado.  Heartbreaking as it ended being the last couple of seconds of injury time.

It is not until you attend a game in person that you really get to see things you aren’t aware of watching the games on television.  First, is how fast the diminutive Brazilian Felipe is.  Those short legs get him places quickly.  The only thing I don’t like about his game is his tendency to go down easily.   Second, is how offensively talented Hassoun Camara is.  On this evening much of the team’s offense came from the right fullback making incursions into the Rapids’ end.  Not only a strong player in the air and defensively in his own end, Camara is becoming a more important player to the Impact as games go by.  Third, is what a good combination Felipe and Di Vaio make.  They seem to know where each is going to be and find each other creating offensive chances.  And finally fourth, what a good passer Marco Di Vaio is.  In the two strikers formation he has been playing out wide more often and finding open players through his precise passing.

As usual it was a fantastic atmosphere in the Saputo Stadium, which was just under 200 short of a sell-out.  The fans did not give up on the Impact despite the fact that they kept making mistakes and allowing the Rapids back into the game.  They tried to urge their team on to victory only to leave the stadium disappointed.  Montreal did not deserve to win a game in which they allowed 4 goals at home and made many mistakes defensively.

What there was to feel good about was that the team never did give up and kept trying to come out of the game with some points even though it was obviously this wasn’t their night.  Also what should make fans feel good was the play of Paponi.  He was everywhere up front, always involved in the team’s offense and in his 3rd full game with the team scoring 2 goals.

The Impact’s next game is Wednesday night in Toronto against Toronto FC, a team once again struggling.

Game Stats:

-On-field Officials:  Referee – Drew Miller

Linesmen:

-Goals:  1st Half:

24th minute:  Colorado – Atiba Harris assisted by Dillon Powers

38th minute:  Montreal – Hassoun Camara

42nd minute:  Montreal – Daniele Paponi assisted by Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Nesta

2nd Half:

59th minute:  Colorado – Dillon Powers assisted by Nathan Sturgis

72nd minute:  Montreal – Daniele Paponi assisted by Davy Arnaud and Felipe

77th minute:  Colorado – Deshorn Brown assisted by Chris Klute

90th + 5th minute:  Colorado – Anthony Cascio assisted by Chris Klute

-Shot on Goal:  Montreal – 6

Colorado – 6

-Corners:  Montreal – 6

Colorado – 3

-Attendance:  20,383

-Final Score:  Montreal – 3

Colorado – 4

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