I know in the modern world of sports that the result is the only thing that matters but sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture. D.C. United is the best team in the East Conference and the whole league. The Montreal Impact is in 6th place in the East clinging to the last playoff position 16 points behind D.C. United. On paper this should not have been much of a contest and yet it was. In fact, it was a game in which the Impact dominated.
Montreal had a starting 11 that was full of changes. They had to play their first game this season without their best player, all-star central defender Laurent Ciman. He received a red card in Wednesday’s game against the New York Red Bulls. Speaking of red cards, Marco Donadel was back in the starting holding midfielder role after a 1 game suspension. Eric Miller was starting in Danny Toia’s spot. Wandrille Lefevre started in Ciman’s place. Victor Venegas started in Dilly Duka’s place in the midfield.
Besides all these changes Impact coach Frank Klopas had to deal this week with the aftermath of what Patrice Bernier’s wife wrote on her Facebook page about her husband not playing. The media jumped all over it while Bernier decided to spend some time away from the team. The super fans of the team The Ultras were chanting his name at the beginning of the game and in the 8th minute, Bernier’s number, fans started the chant again. Bernier has been with the team since the beginning of its time in the MLS and is a local guy. In other words, he is important and many feel he has not been treated fairly.
Despite the changes and the distractions Montreal went into the game on a 4 game unbeaten streak. They have been playing well. Well enough to play up to the standards of the number one team in the league. Despite this they allowed an early goal against. In the 13th minute a turnover led to the only goal D.C. would score and in the end, the only goal they would need to win the game.
Just inside the Impact half Donadel, who has been playing much better soccer the last 6 games or so, played a suicide ball back to Victor Cabrera. Jairo Arrieta was all over the compromised Cabrera like a cheap suit causing the central defender to cough up the ball and before you could say breakaway the ball was at the feet of Chris Rolfe, who was off to the races. Rolfe easily won the 1-on-1 battle against Montreal keeper Evan Bush. 1-0 D.C. United.
D.C. does not score many goals, but they don’t have to as they are solid defensively with only allowing 34 goals this season. When the opposition scores first Montreal has a 0-7-1 record, so the picture wasn’t bright for Montreal and their supporters. D.C. did not put much pressure on Montreal in the 2nd half, but they didn’t really have to.
For the rest of the game Montreal was the team that dictated the tempo of the game. Over the course of the remaining 77 minutes Montreal launched a way above average for them 25 shots at the direction of D.C. United net and keeper Bill Hamid. Hamid is considered one of the best goalies in the MLS. And if you doubted that then he did his best to prove you wrong. The man made 8 saves over the course of the game with several of them being of the sparkling variety. A short resumé of his shot stops – 34th minute a leg save off an Andres Romero shot from a tight angle in close, 44th minute a save off Dominic Oduro 1-on-1, 73rd minute another save 1-on-1 verses Oduro, 78th minute a save on a low shot from just outside the box by Ignacio Piatti, and finally in the 85th minute on another low hard shot by Venegas in which he had to get up quickly to collect the rebound before an Impact player pounced on it.
In their previous game this season in Washington, D.C. United defeated Montreal 1-0. The same result and score happened last night. However, it was a completely different game. Montreal was the better team and did everything but scored. They had 67.7% possession in the game and could not score. Yes, we could look at that and be frustrated instead I am going to look at the positives. They created all these scoring chances and once a striker of the calibre of Didier Drogba is in the line-up (which he is rumoured to be as of the August 22nd game against Chicago) there is certain to be more goals. Goals that will win them games. This was a loss, but it was a game that made me be feel hopeful about the days in which Ciman, Piatti, Venegas (who was all over the field tonight), and Drogba will be on the field together.
-On-Field Officials: Referee – Sorin Stoica
Linesmen – Claudiu Badea and Scott Kachmarik
-Goals: 1st Half:
14th minute: D.C. United – Chris Rolfe assisted by Jairo Arrieta
-Shots on Goal: Montreal – 8
D.C. United – 1
-Corners: Montreal – 10
D.C. United – 3
-Man of the Match: Ignacio Piatti
-Final Score: Montreal – 0
D.C. United – 1