Once again, another chapter of history has been written in Montreal! The fans came out in record setting fashion to watch their Impact draw the visiting Chicago Fire 1-1 at the Olympic Stadium, aka the Big O. The Impact put in a much more solid performance than they did against Vancouver, proving that this team is getting more dangerous as they continue to get to know each other and gel as a unit.
Defensively, the Impact did their best to extinguish the Fire attack (yes, cheesy pun intended) for most of 90 minutes. Donovan Ricketts was not really tested throughout this game but his control and communication of his back line was superb. Matteo Ferrari and Tyson Wahl displayed more stability in their 2nd game together. Their only mistake was not providing proper cover on Chicago's controversial game tying goal. Both Josh Gardner and Jeb Brovsky provided great rushes up the field while never being caught out of the position. Gardner was also responsible for taking everyone's breathe away in the final moments of the game when he unleashed a screamer that may have damaged the opposing goal.
On top of playing a Soccer game, Jesse Marsch had the midfielders and forwards play a few rounds of musical chairs. Davy Arnaud moved around from right midfield to forward and back, Justin Mapp saw time at all three midfield spots while Sanna Nyassi went from striker to left midfield.
Justin Mapp had a better showing than the last time out but was still inconsistent. He showed some very good flashes but seemed lost at times. Felipe sealed his reputation as a smooth operating, hard playing pain in the neck with his good ball control, strong runs and tough fouls. Although he is a smaller player, he was not afraid to get into an opponent's face and defend his team. Patrice Bernier played well despite still trying to adapt to the North American style. He lost quite a few battles but made up for it with some good ball distribution. His decision making and quickness improved from the season opener.
Lamar Neagle came in for Justin Mapp and despite getting a (well deserved) yellow for diving in the box, he quickly showed the qualities that made him a fan favorite in Seattle. Very combative, quick and forward thinking, he helped put a great amount of pressure on the Chicago backline towards the end of the game. Definitely a name to remember.
Captain Davy Arnaud started off in midfield displaying some good control and pace. When Sanna Nyassi started getting overmatched by bigger and more physical Fire defenders, they switched places and the number of chances started increasing. Being able to match up better with the defense, Arnaud was able to create more havoc and went into the history books as the first ever goal scorer for the Montreal MLS franchise. Nyassi, just like last week, became more dangerous from the midfield position with his runs and control. He can use his creativity and size a lot more when he is creating plays instead of focusing on putting the ball into the back of the net.
There were two Justin Brauns on the field, the good and the not so good one. The good one played in the last 25 yards to the net. Although he still needs to polish his finishing, he was a constant threat towards goal and showed some good ball control. The not so good Braun was coming back all the way back into his defensive half to support the midfield. Often, he'd get a ball at half, take off on a 15 yard run and then lose the ball. While his teammates appreciated the support, I'm sure they would have appreciated a goal more. There is no sense in him burning precious energy coming back.
Finally, the kid Andrew Wenger and the oldie Bernardo Corradi came on as late substitutions and quickly showed the fans why the organisation brought them on board. Although they were unable to set up a winning goal, they were able to join the flow of the game quickly and become very dangerous. Corradi, despite almost killing an opponent with an accidental wild elbow, set up two great plays with sharp passes that his teammates couldn't finish. Wenger, on the other hand, had a few great runs and showed some flashes of what made him the number 1 overall pick.
Overall, it was a very good game that ended with a fair result. The Impact are starting to gel and become more dangerous. They are about 3-5 games away from showing their full potential but with two good showings in two weeks, no one in the MLS should be surprised when this team will be still in the playoff hunt late in the season.