On a cool beautiful night, 15615 fans filled out Stade Saputo to see their Montreal Impact stay in the playoff race. Stade Saputo continues to be the home fortress for the Impact in style and results. The 2-1 win over the New England Revolution puts Montreal into 6th spot, 2 points ahead of the Revs and the Crew.
Surprisingly, Jesse Marsch did not put in his classical 4-2-3-1 and benched Collen Warner and Zarek Valentin. With Marco Di Vaio up front, Davy Arnaud, Sanna Nyassi and Justin Mapp played behind him. In the center midfield, Patrice Bernier and Felipe Martins were reunited with Felipe going back to a deeper role.
It was an interesting choice and got even more interesting when Justin Mapp was the free electron/playmaker for the team. Mapp was shifting around from 2nd striker to playmaker and even winger so his role was important in this game.
New England had a similar formation with Benny Feilhaber and Clyde Simms in the CMF area and a very skilled forward line. Lee Nguyen and Saer Sene were dangerous all game long and were actually fun to watch, even though they played for the ''other'' team. On an individual basis, the Revs have some highly skilled players that can really make a difference. On the other side, the Impact have skilled players but focus on more of a cohesive style of play.
More after the jump
Patrice Bernier gave the Impact the lead in the 28th minute on a penalty kick. Kudos to Bernier for being cool under pressure (yet again) as he had to retake the penalty kick twice, courtesy of the referee Fotis Bazakos. Nguyen equalized right before the half with a cannon shot that beat Donovan Ricketts up high, hit the cross bar and rebounded on Ricketts to go into the net.
The doom and gloom of not keeping the lead was felt around the stadium but the Impact prevailed. Sanna Nyassi blasted a beautiful volley from a Justin Mapp cross and the Impact took 3 points to the bank.
During the first half, the Montreal Impact had the tactical advantage over the Revolution with a lot of space given to the midfield, especially Felipe. The Brazilian midfielder was sitting in a deeper position so his offensive ''impact'' was not as visible as in previous games. Without Warner, Felipe had more defensive responsibilities hence giving a bigger role to Justin Mapp and Marco Di Vaio.
Marco Di Vaio did not score but his presence on the field was important. Having to come back deeper to get service, his passing was key to breaking down the Revs defense. His through pass to Sanna Nyassi was excellent, which at the end resulted in the penalty kick.
Di Vaio was not as active as in previous games and he must feel the frustration of not scoring. The bright side of his performances is that he continues to work hard, press and make the smart runs. He will be probably be better off playing alongside another striker (Corradi where are thou) but has had enough chances to show that he can play as the lone striker.
Jesse Marsch has rallied to troops for another important win to stay in the playoff race. The July marathon continues with the Impact going to Houston to play the Dynamo, a team that has not lost at home yet in 2012.
Post-Game comments: Montreal
Impact head coach Jesse Marsch
Our response to giving up that late goal in the first half tonight was good . We were all about being hard to play against and defending. Our team stayed focused, didn't feel sorry for them and responded very well in the second half. We have let a lot of points slip away lately. There was a confidence on the field tonight. There was no panic.
Defender Dennis Iapichino
We played a pretty good first half. Even in the second, you can't say that we let up. We played a simple game. Their goal was a little lucky. But once we scored the second goal, we played well defensively.
Impact captain Davy Arnaud
We came into the locker room and that wasn't a sense of feeling sorry for ourselves or here we go again at half time .We are really pleased about tonight, but now we got a quick turnaround with Houston Saturday night.