This home game was to be the third and last game regular season contest between the Montreal Impact and the Charleston Battery. Each of the previous two ended in a 0-0 tie. Despite the fact that the Impact were playing them at home they would still have their work cut out for them. Charleston, in 2nd place in USL-1 with 27 points, is a defensively sound team that has only allowed 6 goals in 15 games. On top of that impressive statistic the Charleston goaltender Dustin Hudock leads the league with 9 shutouts. To compare, the Impact are in 6th place with 17 points after 12 games with 14 goals allowed. A tough test, indeed.
Looking at the glass as half full, under Coach Dos Santos the team has played better and boasts a 5-2-1 record. With a win the Impact has a chance to bring their record up to .500. It is important for the Impact to come back with a strong game after losing 4-0 in their last league match.
Both sides pretty much will be fielding full rosters, but there are a couple of Impact missing of note. The Impact still have a few players out with injuries (Cédric Joqueviel and Patrick Leduc), but Roberto Brown has returned from Panama and would be available as a substitute. Fullback Stefano Pesoli and midfielder Leonardo Di Lorenzo would be game time decisions. Keeper Matt Jordan is back in nets after taking the game against Haiti off. To be noted is that his next shutout will be career number 25.
Things looked grim for the home side when 20 seconds after referee Carol Anne Chénard blew her whistle to start the game the Battery had an excellent scoring chance. Luckily for the Impact and their supporters the shot was wide and the score still 0-0. It always seems to take the Impact a while to get into the game. This is an aspect of their game that has to be improved; their heads have to be in it from the beginning.
Thankfully, it did not take the Impact very long to get their legs beneath them and go on the offense. The Impact tried a couple a searching balls early on that keeper Hudock was able to get to before the Impact forwards. Searching for cracks in the strong Charleston defense with through balls seemed to be the tactic the Impact would try throughout the match.
While the first 20 minutes of the game was played very methodically by both sides, the Impact seemed to take over for the rest of the half. The Impact begin taking the game to Charleston. They were attacking and defending in numbers and looking confident. Much of the team's offense is coming through supporting attacker Joey Gjertsen. He sent some balls to Biello that were inches off and the Impact gain their best scoring chance of the first half when he crossed a ball to Rocco Placentino, who rocketed a volley from a severe angle right on Hudock. It was a reaction save, but a save nonetheless. The Impact have had trouble scoring all season. They have not scored in the last two games they have played. Finishing continues to be a problem.
While watching the strong play of the Impact in the first half, the play of a few players stood out. The play of two veterans must be commented on. Striker Eduardo Sebrango is a delight to watch. He is smart, talented, still loves to play, and is very sportsmanlike. Captain and long-time Impact player, Mauro Biello is incredibly intelligent. While he has lost some speed he still finds himself in the right places because he knows the game so well.
With each game he plays at the fullback position, Stephen deRoux improves defensively. He uses his speed and is not afraid to go forward. On one such run forward, deRoux demonstrated some fancy footwork and determination to the delight of the fans. Despite being all alone against two Charleston defenders he made something out of nothing and it earned a scoring chance for his team. The Impact needs more of this type of grit and creativity if they are to beat Charleston.
One player who is having a tough game is midfielder Rocco Placentino. He has been a little off with his through balls and crosses all day. Sometimes I wonder if his habit of whining to the referee whenever he doesn't agree with a call or non-call (which he was doing quite a bit in this game) takes him off his game. He really should focus on the game and leave alone what he cannot control.
It is not surprising that between these two teams the score at halftime was 0-0. It has been 225 minutes of play between the two in which neither side has managed to find the back of the net. Other than the 1st minute chance the Impact shut down the Charleston attack. They say that if you find yourself with many chances to score and you don't that it will come back to haunt you. This is exactly what happened to the Impact. Charleston slowed down the game in the second half and the Impact themselves came out a little flat. The pace of the game was down several notches.
The Charleston Battery seemed to be lulling the Impact to sleep and they themselves snuck in a few scoring chances. You just had a feeling that it would just take one mistake by either team to decide this game. And that is exactly what happened in the 67th minute and unfortunately it was the Impact that committed the booboo. Midfielder Joey Gjertsen turned over the ball in transition and with the Impact flatfooted Charleston midfielder Scott Buete (who had just entered the match two minutes previously) was able to find striker Daniel Antoniuk alone in the 18 yard box. Antoniuk pivoted quickly and lashed a low shot past a diving Matt Jordan.
Against a strong defensive side like Charleston trailing by 1 goal is like being asked to scale Mount Everest. Despite the crowd urging the them on and Coach Dos Santos pushing hard for the equalizer by deciding to go with three forwards (Roberto Brown, Eduardo Sebrango and Amadou Pa Gai) the Impact could not come up with the tying goal during the last 10 minutes of play.
The result is disappointing for a team that is looking to improve its playoff position and demonstrate that they can compete with the big boys in the USL-1.
The next Impact home game is on Wednesday, July 8th versus the Syrian national team.
-Officials: Referee: Carol Anne Chénard
Linesmen: Richard Gamache and Bedik Charchafiand
-Goals: Charleston – 68' – David Antoniuk assisted by Scott Buete
-Cards: Charleston – 11' – O'Brian Woodbine – Yellow
Montreal – 79' – Nevio Pizzolitto – Yellow
Montreal – 82' – Felix Brillant – Yellow
-Shots: Montreal: 9
-Saves: Montreal: 5
-Corners: Montreal: 5
-Carlsberg Player of the Game: Mauro Biello