Sporting Park was witness to a game full of controversy and drama between the Montreal Impact and Sporting Kansas City. The last encounter between both clubs ended in a Sporting KC lesson and humiliation for the Impact. It was then that Marco Schällibaum was red-carded after the ''water bottle incident''. Most of the scenario stayed the same but this time, Montreal takes the 3 points and the Eastern Conference lead.
Early in the game, at the 7th minute, Justin Mapp finds a streaking Nyassi on the left side with a beautiful through pass. The Gambian international finds space behind the Sporting KC lines but pushes the ball too much and only manages a deflected pass for Felipe who was late on the play.
Sporting Kansas City gets more of the ball possession earlier in the half but it was the Impact that almost scored via Felipe Martins . A combination between Marco Di Vaio and Felipe generates a scoring chance as the Italian striker finds Felipe in the box alone against Jimmy Nielsen. A poor ball control from the Brazilian forces Nielsen to punch it out for a corner kick.
As expected throughout the game, Matteo Ferrari and Claudio Bieler got to know each other very well. The Argentinean made sure to leave his mark when his powerful shot was deflected by Ferrari's sliding tackle. It was not the last we would see of Bieler.
The rest of the half got quieter with the Impact getting more and more confident but still keeping the counter attack switch on. Speaking of quick breaks, at the 30th minute, Hassoun Camara demonstrates some skills and speed through the middle. His pass to Marco Di Vaio is intentionally ignored by the Italian striker. The ball finds Sanna Nyassi who picks up the pass with speed and crosses it in. His cross finds Felipe who could not muster enough power on a header to challenge Nielsen.
You could feel that the Impact was in a position of strength with a very dynamic defense, led by Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari. With a few blocked shots and blocked crosses, the pair was able to keep danger away from Troy Perkins.
In the last ten minutes of the half, Montreal pressed Kansas City a bit more to break the rhythm and slowed the game down. That was exactly what the visitors wanted to do. A quick deadly combination between Di Vaio and Felipe gets the midfielder on a breakaway against Nielsen. The Brazilian beats Nielsen but not the post. The rebound eventually finds Felipe who feeds Di Vaio but the Goleador miscues his shot badly, at least up to his standards.
Though, the half could not end in such a dull manner. The referee whistles a controversial penalty kick right before the half. An apparent tug of Claudio Bieler's jersey from Alessandro Nesta was enough to get the attention of the assistant referee. As the foul could have been apparent and logical, the foul being assessed as a penalty kick was more of a head-scratcher.
Negotiations and crowding does not do anything and Claudio Bieler converts the penalty kick with rage and precision. The host take a 1-0 lead at the half but the rage has now shifted to the other side but no one told Sporting KC.
It would not be a game in Kansas City without an expulsion as history repeats itself. Obviously not happy with the penalty call, Marco Schällibaum did not join the troops for the second half as he was apparently kicked out of the game. We do expect to learn about some kind of altercation with the referees and some words in German that I dare not repeat.
As the rage shifts towards the Montreal Impact, Les Bleus get an early equalizer that felt like a cold shower to the hosts. Barely three minutes into the half , Justin Mapp finds Felipe on the left who gets harshly fouled by Jerome Mechack . Patrice Bernier takes the free kick that bounces around the box only to find Sanna Nyassi who takes a strong shot that beats Nielsen.
With barely enough time to settle in and get back into the game, the Impact take the lead thanks to a cool finish from Collen Warner. The midfielder gets the ball inside the box as he finds himself unmarked after Sporting KC tried to clear the ball. He finishes with a low shot that beats Nielsen with some class and patience shown on that play.
And this is when Sporting KC started to get angry.
At the 64th minute, Troy Perkins makes a key save off a Benny Feilhaber's half bicycle kick. For the last 30 minutes of the game, the host team controlled the ball as Montreal put on a defensive shell while continuing to counter attack.
The last 25 minutes of the game had the Impact play one-man down as it lost the services of Alessandro Nesta. Claudio Bieler was headbutted by the Italian defender after a clever but classless stomp on Nesta's hand. The latter did not accept it so easily and went after Bieler with a light head butt . Nesta was shown the door with a red card.
Sporting KC did not take advantage of outnumbering Montreal as the best chance to tie the game came at the end of stoppage time. Kei Kamara's shot went just wide of Perkins' left post and the Montreal Impact went on to win an important game that challenged its character, mental force and team unity.
As per conclusions, I could not think of a better one: Thank you @ImpactMontreal
In other random MLS news, the Montreal Impact are top of the Eastern Conference with a 1-point lead over the New York Red Bulls. A well deserved 2-week rest awaits the Montreal warriors before facing the Columbus Crew on June 19th at Columbus.