Like in most games, it was a tale of two halves, substitutions and clutch play. The Impact start its preseason on the right foot even if it's only preseason.
A sub-par performance in the first half put the Montreal Impact in trouble pretty early. Approximation in passes, timings of runs are all part of typical package you would expect in preseason. Though, Sporting KC showed being ready for the challenge and very much in sync. The Montreal Impact fielded what could be possible 90% of the starting XI for the season opener on March 2nd against the Seattle Sounders.
Graham Zusi drew first blood with an amazing shot from about 20-23 meters at the 18th minute.The highly skilled midfielder unleashed a shot that beat Troy Perkins, who did not expect that kind of power and precision. A bit of lose marking did not help but it's still work in progress for Montreal.
From one star player to another, Marco Di Vaio scores a '' Di Vaio'' special bringing back memories of his Serie A days: simple but sweet. A confusion in the KC midfield was welcomed by Patrice Bernier who intercepted a Zusi pass that was intended to Nagamura. Bernier, the maestro of Montreal, releases a one touch pass to Marco Di Vaio who ties the game at 1-1, right before half-time. Did I say that Bernier's pass was a masterpiece...again?
It was not a ''deserved'' 1-1- at half-time but the team played better after a difficult first 20 minutes. The second half was marked by a few substitutions that Marco Schällibaum announced he would do before-hand. Those changes paid off as Maxime Tissot found Andrew Wenger in the box with a nice through ball. Wenger did not lose his finishing touch and scored the winning goal in the 61st minute.
(*) Hassoun Camara playing in front of the defense was interesting but not fully convincing yet. Camara knows that position having played it in 2011 with the Impact in the USL. He switched back to CB after Nesta was subbed off early in the second season. I expect him to switch regularly between both positions but has an underrated game vision and passing quality.
(*) Troy Perkins is ready to start the season. He would take back that shot from Zusi but it still was an excellent shot.
(*) More movement on the sides for Montreal with more intent from the fullbacks. Even before this game, I was
never convinced of a guaranteed spot for Iapichino and Valentin as the starters on each side. There is a
more aggressive mentality in those sectors but with young guns like Tissot and Smith, the left side might
still be open
(*) Disciplined defending from the center backs during the game. Notably, Matteo Ferrari is imposing himself again as the rock if this defense with many aggressive but clean defensive interventions.
(*) Currently on trial, Eber played 30 minutes and showed soccer skills. Where he stands in the eyes of the club is another story but he did manage a Ronaldinho no-look pass to Wenger at the 78th minute and a shot on goal at the 81st minute.
(*) Youth movement: Maxime Tissot and Wandrille Lefevre played respectively 30 and 20 minutes (approx.). Tissot delivered a nice pass to Wenger for the winning goal. Lefevre filled in Bernier's big shoes and played precious minutes as a CMF/DMF.
(*) Justin Mapp is still with the club and had a decent showing. Even he got the stare of death from Di Vaio, we could expect a stronger season from the left-footed midfielder. Not starting the preseason injured like in 2012 will definitively be good news for both player and club.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex | Kissimmee, F.L. -- Weather: Partly cloudy and 73
Jimmy Nielsen (Kronberg 62); Seth Sinovic (Josh Gardner 62), Matt Besler (Yann Songo'o 62), Aurelien Collin (Ike Opara 46), Mechack Jerome* (Kyle Miller 62); Orioll Rosell (Lawrence Olum 62), Paulo Nagamura (Christian Duke** 62), Benny Feilhaber (Peterson Joseph 62); Graham Zusi (C.J. Sapong 62), Claudio Bieler (Soony Saad 62), Bobby Convey (Adama Mbengue* 62)
Troy Perkins, Zarek Valentin (Jeb Brovsky 46), Alessandro Nesta (Collen Warner 46), Matteo Ferrari, Dennis Iapichino (Maxim Tissot 60); Davy Arnaud (Andrea Pisanu 69), Patrice Bernier (Wandrille Lefevre 72), Hassoun Camara, Felipe (Eber* 60), Sanna Nyassi (Justin Mapp 46), Marco Di Vaio (Andrew Wenger 60, Calum Mallace 83')
* - Guest/Trialist Player
** - Supplemental Draft Pick
|Shots on goal||3||4|
MTL - Davy Arnaud 31 (caution)
MTL - Wandrille Lefevre 90 (caution)
KC - Graham Zusi (Paulo Nagamura) 18
MTL - Marco Di Vaio (Patrice Bernier) 45, Andrew Wenger (Maxim Tissot) 61
Head coach Marco Schällibaum
About the team's first game of the year...
It's the first game in three months for this group. The important thing is we won the game. There are things we need to work on as we had some difficulty in the first 20 minutes. But we never gave up on going for the win. In the second half, after the second goal, we continued to show that we wanted to win this game. I saw a lot of players who were ready to suffer for this team."
Midfielder Patrice Bernier
About adjusting to the field...
We were happy to finally play a game after three long weeks of training. We didn't dominate the game but came out with the win. We need to play as quickly as possible with the ball and move a lot on the field. It took some time to adjust to the field, but we got better and better as the game went.
Defender Maxim Tissot
About his first game...
When I got in the game in the second half, I tried to take advantage of some of the tired players on the other side. I have to keep working and continue to have good performances to gain more confidence.
Sporting Kansas City
Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Head Coach
On conceding the first goal...
The goal that they scored was some non-chalantness at that point. Great pass, great run, great goal from their perspective. Just too easy of an opportunity for us to give up. That's the biggest part.
On conceding two goals for the first time this preseason...
You've got to make sure you put your foot on it now. And make sure that defensively it doesn't raise it's ugly head. Giving up the other goal, I think we just tired out a little bit. And that was the biggest thing, we realized we still have some work to do in regards to fitness.
On the second group of players that finished the match...
I thought they were good. They actually kept the level high and didn't give too much away. Good movement of the ball, as well. It was good to see that they had a lot of the qualities and tendencies that we see in the other group.
On having two Orlando City trialists...
We talked about different things we would like to do back and forth. Yesterday, Adrian (Heath) was out at our training watching. The day before he was out at our training watching. I told him to keep an eye on a bunch of guys. Then we'll be talking about which guys would come here on loan. Obviously, there's still a lot to be worked on but its good that we have a positive relationship already started.
On getting the starters extended minutes...
Everybody got 60 minutes and that was a good piece of it. The last piece is that we have to get those guys 75 minutes in the next game.
On Zusi's return...
Big time goal. We had some good chances as a team, but it was big for us to have (Graham) Zusi, Benny (Feilhaber) and Matt Besler back on the field together.