On a cold and rainy day at Saputo Stadium our designated player Marco Di Vaio did his best to drive the clouds away. The Italian notched a hat trick in his team’s very exciting 5-3 win on Saturday night.
The game was billed to be a duel between two of the MLS’s top scorers. Jack McInerney coming into the game was number on with 8 goals and Montreal’s Italian striker Di Vaio was tied with a few others for 3rd with 6. It must be pointed out that Di Vaio due to the erratic Montreal early season schedule has played a few less games than most other players. When all was said and done Di Vaio maybe gave the MLS world something to chew on concerning who is the best scorer in the league this season.
Montreal hadn’t played a game in 10 days so they must have been itching to get at it despite the dreary weather which made the pitch quite slick. The 5th placed Philadelphia Union were their opponents and they really showed them no mercy. Dressed in their blue and black strips the Impact must have made the Union feel a little black and blue from the pummeling they gave them.
The goals came early and they came often. Right off the hop and I’m sure before a number of the brave fans who came to the game were even fully in their seats Montreal struck for the first goal of the game. Pretty much on their first offensive foray, midfielder Justin Mapp, who is in the midst of a strong run of play, found a streaking Andrew Wenger along the right side. Wenger proceeded to take the ball down to the touch line then crossed it back to the top of the 18 yard box where Di Vaio struck it first time with the outside of his left boot straight into the Union net. Great play, classic finish.
Now in many a soccer match one goal is all you are going to get. Such was not the case in this hotly contested game. Offensive chances came in flurries and there were plenty to enjoy. A mere minute later Di Vaio almost had another as he struck a ball well, but Union keeper Zac MacMath parried the ball over the bar. It was all Impact. Or so we thought… Just when you though the Union were not going to compete they notched a goal of their own to level the game. In only the 5th minute the game was tied 1-1. McInerney showed Di Vaio he has tricks of his own by scoring his 9th of the campaign from just outside the 6 yard box. Impact coach Marco Schallibaum must have been scratching his head as to how his team could have left the league’s number one scorer unmarked so close to the Impact net. There was no chance for Troy Perkins on the goal. We were level.
You could see that maybe central fullbacks Alessandro Nesta, back for his first game after missing a couple due to a pesky abductor injury, and Matteo Ferrari were going to have their hands full with the speedy McInerney. Fortunately they collected themselves and used all that experience to shut him down for the rest of the game.
Now it truly became the Marco Di Vaio show. In the 29th minute the warrior Jeb Brovsky, who had taken off the protective mask he was to wear after fracturing his nose in 6 places the previous game, led the charge forward. He found Mapp along the right side who deftly lobbed a ball over the Union defensive line and this time Di Vaio time his run to perfection beating the offside trap. Di Vaio controlled the ball with his chest and then calmly slotted it past a helpless MacMath. 2-1 Montreal. The crowd had not really finished their celebration of the last goal when Di Vaio completed his hat trick in a mere 32 minutes. This time he was set up by a splendid run and cross by the Argentinean midfielder Andres Romero. Romero took the ball up the left side into the Union 18 yard box then deked out defender Sheanon Williams and crossed the ball to the far post. The first time volley by Di Vaio was true. 3-1 Montreal.
With that goal Di Vaio moved into a 1st place time with 9 goals with McInerney. The crowd was out of their minds, created a lot of atmosphere in the stadium throughout the game and now began chanting “Di Vaio, Di Vaio”.
The Union defenders were showing their Achilles heel in that they have had a lot of trouble defending against crosses this season and have surrendered a lot of goals this way. Montreal, with their fresh legs, was creating a lot of problems for them by playing an energetic game and always having 2 or 3 options for the ball carrier.
Midway through the 2nd half Romero suffers a contusion on his right foot and has to come out of the game. This is too bad because he was playing a good game. Rookie Blake Smith comes in for him.
This half the team traded goals. Every time the Union made the game tight Montreal would score another to regain its 2 goal lead. In the 69th minute the ultra speedy sub Antoine Hoppenot scored on a shot from the right side that though it was a rocket Perkins made a mistake on. He seemed to not realize that it was a shot on net and not a cross. That is the first weak goal I have seen him give up this season. Six minutes later Wenger restored the 2 goal lead on a header off a Felipe corner. 4-2 Montreal. Once again Philadelphia tried to claw their way back in via an unassisted Sebastien Le Toux goal in the 85th minute. To make sure that things did not get too stressful Smith scored his first goal of the season and first in the MLS when he ran onto a Patrice Bernier ball came in on MacMath alone and like a season pro put it past him. Game over. Montreal victory 5-3.
Eight goals! That doesn’t happen every day! A just reward for the fans who stuck it out through the cold and rain. And bravo to Marco Di Vaio for his brilliant game.
The next game for the Impact will be Wednesday in Vancouver against the Whitecap. It is the second game of the Canadian Championship and the deciding one as the first game ended in a 0-0 tie.
-Goals: 1st Half
2nd minute: Montreal – Marco Di Vaio assisted by Andrew Wenger and Justin Mapp
5th minute: Philadelphia – Jack McInerney assisted by Michael Farfan
29th minute: Montreal – Marco Di Vaio assisted by Justin Mapp
32nd minute: Montreal – Marco Di Vaio assisted by Andres Romero
69th minute: Philadelphia – Antoine Hoppenot assisted by Amobi Akugo
75th minute: Montreal – Andrew Wenger assisted by Felipe
85th minute: Philadelphia – Sebastien Le Toux unassisted
90th +4 minute: Montreal – Blake Smith assisted by Patrice Bernier
-Shots on Goal: Montreal –
-Saves: Montreal –
-Corners: Montreal –
-Player of the Match: Marco Di Vaio
-Final Score: Montreal – 5
Philadelphia – 3