Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution @ Gillette Stadium – September 8, 2013

With the New York Red Bulls and Kansas City victories earlier in the day the Montreal Impact had slipped down to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.  Meaning that this game against the New England Revolution was an important one if they wanted to keep pace in the race for 1st place.

New England is a solid team defensively and this is doubly true when they are at home.  This season they had only given up 8 goals at home.  They are also a very young team that is in the process of figuring out their identity.  They are coming off a 4-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union, so their confidence was high.

In regards to the Impact starting 11 there was a few changes.  Recently signed defensive midfielder Hernand Bernadello is out until late October with a sprained ankle.  He was replaced in the starting line-up by Collen Warner.  Outside midfielder Andres Romero was back in Argentina on a paternity leave as his wife just gave birth to twins.  Captain Davy Arnaud was inserted back into the starting line-up in his place.  Romero should be back with the team this week.  In a related topic rookie midfielder Blake Smith did not make the trip with the team, so he was not an option for coach Marco Schallibaum.  On the positive side, Montreal dodged a bullet when natural grass was put down at Gillette Stadium due to an upcoming friendly seeing Portugal play Brazil.  This meant that veteran central defender Alessandro Nesta, who has been bothered with an adductor injury, would be able to play.  He has strong outings in the team’s last 3 games, so his inclusion in the line-up would be welcomed.

Going into this game Montreal had won 3 games on the road.  Road games in soccer are tricky as the home side is usually buoyed by their fans and the comfort of knowing every inch of the pitch.  Teams on the road usually go in with the mindset of playing strong defensively and hoping for a chance or two at the opposition net resulting in a 1-0 victory.  This is not how this game worked out.

The Impact was wearing their white shirts with royal blue shorts while the Revolution was in navy blue with white and red trim.  On this nice night for soccer the action started very early on.  In the 5th minute the referee issued a straight red card to Revolution starting keeper Matt Reis.  The expulsion was due to his trip of Impact striker Marco Di Vaio in the 18 yard box.  The play was created when Felipe chipped a ball over the Revolution defense sending in Di Vaio alone on Reis.  Di Vaio fumbled with the ball and Reis dove to his right to try to get the ball off of him.  In the process of doing this he knocked down the Italian striker.  Besides the red card and the Revolution having to play the remaining 85 minutes with only 10 men Reis would have to be replaced with back up Bobby Shuttleworth and Montreal was awarded a penalty shot.  Patrice Bernier stepped and as he has done every time he has taken a penalty shot in the MLS he scored.  Bernier used his usual stutter step approach and struck the ball into the left side of the net along the ground.

Showing some youthful exuberance and that they were not going to roll over despite playing one man down, the next scoring chance went to the Revolution.  Their strongest player on this evening was midfielder Kelyn Rowe and he had a chance to tie the game in the 10th minute from 25 yards out, but Impact keeper Troy Perkins got a hand to the shot to put it over the bar.  The Revolution broke through with a goal in the 26th minute.  The ever-present Rowe played the ball through to striker Dimitry Imbongo.  A bit of bad luck occurred when a well timed slide tackle by Jeb Brovsky dispossessed Imbongo of the ball, but it went directly to Diego Fagundez.  He just had to put the ball into the empty net as Perkins had come out to challenge Imbongo.

On this day the referee Sorin Stoica was Montreal’s best friend.  He awarded the team its second penalty kick in the 31st minute.  If the first one was a little harsh this one was completely so.  Revolution defender Jose Congalves tackled Felipe on the left side of the 18 yard box.  It was a strong tackle that made the smaller player fall to the ground, but Congalves did make contact with the ball first.  In other words, it was a tackle that many refs would have let go.  In the 33rd minute Bernier got his 4th goal of the season and 2nd of the game as a result of the penalty kick.  This time he went to the right side of the net.  Shuttleworth guessed correctly, but just missed stopping it.  It was the first 2 goal game for Bernier since August 25, 2012 versus D.C. United.  2-1 Montreal.

Midway through the 4 minutes of added time in the 1st half Montreal pretty much sealed victory when the scoring machine that is Di Vaio scored on the type of move we’ve seen a couple of times this season.  Bernier started the play by playing a square ball to defender Hassoun Camara just past midfield.  Camera then deftly first timed a looping ball to Di Vaio just outside the box along the left side.  Di Vaio cut back to the middle fooling Revolution defender A.J. Soares.  He then laced a right footed shot along the ground to the short side past a diving Shuttleworth.  A killer late goal for 3-1 Montreal.

Showing that he wasn’t to be outdone by Bernier, Di Vaio scored his own 2nd goal of the game in the 55th minute.  It was almost a carbon copy of the first.  Bernier once again played a short ball to Camara, who accurately played a long diagonal ball to Di Vaio in the box.  He cut inside again on Soares and to inject a little difference this time he put the ball into the far side past a diving Shuttleworth.  This was his 17th goal of the campaign and puts him back on top of the list for most goals this season.  Golden Boot for Di Vaio?  We’ll see.  4-1 Montreal.

The Revolution seemed to have had their spirit crushed by the 4th Montreal goal.  Game slowed down considerably for most of the remainder.  The Impact totally controlled the play and strung together many passes without really attacking the Revolution goal.  I began to wonder why Schallibaum was not making any substitutions and taking the opportunity to rest players who had played a lot of minutes this year like Justin Mapp, Hassoun Camara, Marco Di Vaio, and Jeb Brovsky.  He did eventually take out Di Vaio, but it was with only about 4 minutes left to play.

In the 76th minute after an injection of energy via some substitutions of their own.  Sub Saer Sene played the ball to Rowe and he did the rest of the work himself.  He brought the ball in from 25 yards out to inside the 18 yard box.  Rowe was given plenty of space by Matteo Ferrari laying off him and he smartly just looped the ball over Perkins’ head.

The Impact are now unbeaten in 4 league games and back in a 1st place tie with the Red Bulls and Sporting KC.  Montreal’s next game is at home this Saturday against the Columbus Crew.

Game Stats:

-Referee:  Sorin Stoica

-Goals:  1st Half:

8th minute:  Montreal – (pk)  Patrice Bernier

26th minute:  New England – Diego Fagundez

33rd minute:  Montreal – (pk)  Parice Bernier

45th + 2 minute:  Montreal – Marco Di Vaio assisted by Hassoun Camara

2nd Half:

55th minute:  Montreal – Marco Di Vaio assisted by Hassoun Camara

76th minute:  New England – Kelyn Rowe assisted by Saer Sene

-Shots on Goal:  Montreal – 5

New England – 3

-Corners:  Montreal – 0

New England – 5

-Attendance:  9,165

-Man of the Match:  Marco Di Vaio – Montreal Impact

-Final Score:  Montreal – 4

New England – 2

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