The game was grand literature in that it was soccer’s version of Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. With better play lately and a 2-1-2 record, the Montreal Impact has been instilling some confidence in their fan base that they can creep up into a playoff spot in the MLS. Thankfully for them the other teams in the Eastern Division have not been exactly been lighting it up. For their part fellow Eastern Division members the Houston Dynamos has been anything but dynamos over the past few games. Coming into the game against Montreal they had lost 4 in a row. After a strong start the Dynamos were now mired in a slump.
The game opened with a solid scoring chance for the home side. In only the 2nd minute of play Patrice Bernier played it back to centreback Matteo Ferrari who one-touched a perfectly weighted pass into Felipe. He was all alone on the right side of the Houston penalty area. The Brazilian midfielder unleashed a shot on goal forcing Tally Hall into an early save. Between Felipe and Jack McInerney the Houston defense was going to have a hard time keeping track of the smaller, quicker Impact players.
Despite the fact that Montreal had the run of play for most of the 1st half it was Houston that had the first great scoring chance. In the 30th minute like he had been watching Columbia’s James Hernandez and figured he could do that as well, Houston striker Omar Cummings got to a spot just outside the Montreal penalty box unmarked and took a Giles Barnes ball from the Montreal side of midfield on his chest. Quick as lightning he volleyed a shot on goal with his left that had Impact keeper Troy Perkins out of position like he wasn’t expecting it. Thankfully for Montreal all the well struck shot found was the crossbar.
It looked like we were going to go into the half time break with no goals scored when Montreal struck. Holding midfielder Gorka Larrea played the ball over to an advancing Eric Miller along the left touchline. Miller cut the ball inside to his preferred right foot catching defender Kofi Sarkodie a little off balance. He then lofted a ball into the box. McInerney timed his run perfectly in between two Houston defenders and with his head flicked the ball past Hall. Goals just before or just after half are back breakers. 1-0 Montreal.
To start the 2nd half Marco Di Vaio came on in place of the Spaniard Larrea and made his presence felt throughout the remainder of the game. Houston was trying to get back into the game when the wily Italian caught them on the counter attack in the 57th minute. Getting the ball out wide on the right in his own end Di Vaio quickly played the ball square into Felipe. After taking a little run with the ball into the Houston end, Felipe played a through ball into the path of Di Vaio. His ensuing shot tested Hall, who was able to get a glove on it and deflect it up and over the bar. After the play keeper Hall had a few choice words for his defenders AJ Cochran and Eric Brunner.
In the 62nd minute Felipe had his second chance at a goal when substitute Justin Mapp collected the ball from Hassoun Camara in his own end and played a long ball into space on the right hand side that McInerney ran onto. Very sagely the striker cut the ball back to the top of the box where Felipe had a free shot on net only he couldn’t hit the net as his shot sailed over the bar. Montreal was creating plenty of chances on the counter attack with Houston getting players forward and then being caught outnumbered when the ball came back.
The game remained a tight 1-0 score until the 75th minute when McInerney completed his brace in spectacular fashion. Mapp persevered and got around defender Corey Ashe on the right hand side and then looped a ball towards the middle of the box. With his back to the goal McInerney was somehow able to not only get his foot on it, but put the ball into the opposite top corner. Candidate for goal of the week that’s for sure! An example of a good player making his own luck. 2-0 Montreal.
That goal was pretty much all she wrote for the game. Montreal seemed content to just pass the ball around the pitch with Houston offering just minimal resistance. Yet a mere three minutes later the Italian striker had a goal of his own and just his 2nd of the season. Again it was Mapp starting the playing giving the ball out to the vastly improved Andres Romero on the left side. He wiggled is way around his marker and from the left side of the box took a shot that Hall was able to get a hand to. Bad luck for the keeper was that the rebound fell right to Di Vaio’s feet and the veteran is not going to miss an empty net from 5 yards out. Easy finish. 3-0 Montreal.
Perkins did have to go to ground to his left late in the game to keep his clean sheet and to make his only save of the game. It was long over by then. You could see how this was a game of one team gaining confidence in Montreal while the other side, Houston, was losing it. Fifth loss in a row for the Dynamos and it was the end of a good week coming out of the World Cup break for Montreal with a tie (0-0 in Vancouver) and a win. With these 3 points Montreal was able to move up from 10th spot in the East to 9th now just 4 spots and 5 points out of a playoff spot.
The next game for Montreal will be Saturday, July 5 in Los Angeles against Chivas USA. Chivas is having a rough season as well and are in last place in the Western Division, but they have as many points as Montreal. Let’s keep the roll going!
-On-Field Officials – Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Linesmen: Richard Gamache and Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
-Goals: 1st Half:
41st minute: Montreal – Jack McInerney assisted by Eric Miller
75th minute: Montreal – Jack McInerney assisted by Justin Mapp
78th minute: Montreal – Marco Di Vaio
-Shots on Goal: Montreal – 8
Houston – 1
-Corners: Montreal – 6
Houston – 6
-Man of the Match: Jack McInerney
-Final Score: Montreal – 3
Houston – 0