Sometimes English is too simplistic a language. It just doesn’t have the right word to put the right emotion into a statement. After the second defeat in a row for the Montreal Impact that happened in the last few minutes of the game I thought of how to sum up the loss. The closest I could get to adequately stating what the Impact players must be feeling was the French term “crève coeur”. Heart breaking is the English equivalent, but the even the sound of the French term is close to the feeling.
After a very poor start to the season due to several reasons like striker Marco Di Vaio being out of the line-up a lot for various reasons (injury, suspension), adjusting to the system of a new coach (Frank Klopa), a lack of leadership with the loss of a couple of veterans (Davey Arnaud, Allesandro Nesta), and, honestly, a lack of quality amidst the roster. Over the past couple of weeks the play of the Montreal side has been better. They have become a team that can compete with any side and one that gives up precious few goals. Now, though they have played well enough in their last two games, one on the road and one at home, they have lost them both in a heartbreaking manner.
Sporting KC is the defending MLS champions and boasts a roster that includes names like U.S. National Team member Graham Zusi, U.S. National Team member Matt Besler, 2nd leading goal scorer in the MLS Dom Dwyer, and 2012 and 2013 MLS All-Star Aurelien Collin. The two sides had met twice previously this season with Sporting KC winning both in convincing manner, 3-0 and 4-0. Montreal had not even managed a goal against this solid team. With Sporting Kansas City being in 2nd place and Montreal in 10th (and last) place in the Eastern Conference many thought this would be a certain loss.
Very early in the game it looked like that wold hold true for Sporting KC owned the ball and then earned an early throw in deep in Montreal territory. It was taken by Besler from the right hand side right near the corner flag. He is known to have a long throw, so the Montreal defense should have been prepared for what happened next. Besler’s throw was long and went to the short post and somehow Montreal was not ready for it. The man 2nd in league scoring was somehow allowed to get free within the penalty area and even beat keeper Troy Perkins to the ball at the short post to just redirect it into the net with a quick header. 4th minute in and 1-0 Sporting KC.
Even after the goal it seemed like all the home side could do was chase the visitors around the pitch as they controlled the ball with ease. The first 20 minutes of the game belonged to the mean in light blue. Slowly but surely Montreal clawed their way back into the game. Settling down after allowing the early goal and growing in confidence with ever battle won or pass completed. Suddenly in the 28th minute they scored the equalizer. Patrice Bernier crossed the ball to the right hand side. Justin Mapp got to the ball before the man marking him, Seth Sinovic. He managed to get his head on it and loop it back to the front of the Kansas City net. Di Vaio, using all his veteran savvy, calming knocked the ball into the bottom part of the net behind Andy Gruenebaum.
As the game wore on and the game seemed fairly even between the two sides it seemed like Montreal was going to earn their first point against Sporting KC. Then a miscommunication between Perkins and his central defender Heath Pearce led to another goal by Dwyer in the 89th minute. Substitute C.J. Sapong pressured them and the ball fell to Dwyer. Dwyer is a Montreal killer as this was his 6th goal in 3 games against the Impact. A strong game by Montreal against one of the best sides in the league and they were coming away with nothing. Heart breaking.
A couple of observations about the game and the Impact. Troy Perkins did not have a good game. At least 5 times he misplayed the ball when kicking it away. And on the winning goal he was facing the play and he is the man who should have taken charge. He hesitated and ended up picking the ball out of the back of the net as a result. Another is a positive. It was Polish defender Kryzsztof Krol’s first game for Montreal. Starting in the left wing fullback position he was a bright light for me. A tall lanky guy who demonstrated himself to be a physical presence who possesses speed, is good in the air and was inclined to help out in the offensive third of the field. Hopefully this is his nature and not just adrenaline from playing his first game.
Montreal’s next game is against the Crew in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, July 19th.
-On-Field Officials: Referee – Hilario Grajeda
Linesmen – Brian Dunn and Claudio Badea
-Goals: 1st Half:
4th minute: Sporting KC- Dom Dwyer assisted by Matt Besler
28th minute: Montreal – Marco Di Vaio assisted by Justin Mapp and Patrice Bernier
89th minute: Sporting KC – Dom Dwyer
-Shots on Goal: Montreal – 2
Sporting KC – 6
-Corners: Montreal – 2
Sporting KC – 3
-Man of the Match: Marco Di Vaio
-Final Score: Sporting KC – 2
Montreal – 1