The Montreal Impact kicked off their 2015 regular season Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 defeat against D.C. United at RFK Stadium. The Impact were coming off an emotional 1-1 draw against Club Pachuca in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday. D.C. United was also coming off a midweek game against Costa Rican side Alajuelense.
As a result of D.C. United's midweek match, the state of the pitch was not ideal for either side on Saturday. Head Coach Frank Klopas acknowledged this in his post game comments, "The field conditions were not easy for both teams today and it wasn't a situation where it was to be a good game as far as moving the ball."
The first half was a midfield battle with both teams unable to generate much in the way of an attack. Montreal saw some new faces in the starting lineup, from Tuesday, as Hassoun Camara, Calum Mallace, and Jack McInerney started the match. The Impact's back four again looked significantly better than at any point last season, in the first 45 minutes. Belgian International, Laurent Ciman looked good ashe commanded the back-line and organizing the troops.
However, as the match progressed the Montreal attack was unable to generate much. It appears that word is out around the MLS regarding Nacho Piatti, and if opposing teams can shut down the Argentinian, the Impact do not have many other attacking threats. There is still hope that Jack McInerney, Cameron Porter, and Dominic Oduro can get hot and provide some offence soon.
As good as the defence was on Saturday it could not shut down the D.C. United attack all afternoon, and in the 58th minute Jairo Arrieta scored the lone goal of the match. Impact keeper Evan Bush was caught in no man's land, as he came out to try and beat an onrushing Arrieta to the ball.
Bush lost the foot race and subsequently let in the first goal of 2015. Bush was quoted after the game saying, "I made the decision to come forward or he would have been on a breakaway otherwise. It was a difficult ball to deal with for a goalkeeper."
The other talking point of the game (which later took social media by storm) was the injury Justin Mapp sustained in the second half. Mapp crashed into D.C. United keeper Bill Hamid and dislocated his elbow. There is no word yet on how long Mapp will miss, but surely there is a real threat of him missing out on the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semi-final.
Montreal's newest hero, Cameron Porter, was brought into the game late to try and provide some push up front however he could not provide a repeat performance. Although he could not score, Porter provided a boost of energy when he entered the match, and looks to have a head for the game.
The loss is not a total disaster for the Impact, as they were playing on short rest and on a difficult surface, which ultimately hurt the team going forward. Frank Klopas noted after the game, "To be fair, I think we had some very good chances and it was unlucky because it was a soft goal. A 0-0 tie would probably have been a fair result, but it's a long season."
It should not be lost on Impact supporters that D.C. United finished on top of the Eastern Conference last season; and will be a strong team again in 2015. There were not a lot of goals around the MLS this weekend, (seven other teams did not score a goal - as of Sunday evening) and teams are still working out kinks in their lineups. More importantly, the defense is looking solid and will provide a key building block moving forward in the 2015 MLS regular season
The Montreal Impact are off next weekend. The next match will be played Wednesday March 18 against Alajuelense in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semi-final at the Olympic Stadium.
MTL - GK-Evan Bush; D-Hassoun Camara, Bakary Soumare, Laurent Ciman, Donny Toia; M-Nigel Reo-Coker, Calum Mallace, Justin Mapp (Dominic Oduro 86'), Ignacio Piatti (Eric Alexander 76'), Dilly Duka; F-Jack McInerney (Cameron Porter 71')
Subs not used: G-Eric Kronberg; D-Maxim Tissot, Victor Cabrera; M-Patrice Bernier
DCU - GK-Bill Hamid; D-Chris Korb, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Sean Franklin; M-Chris Rolfe (Miguel Aguilar 77'), Perry Kitchen, Davy Arnaud, Nick DeLeon; F-Jairo Arrieta (Michael Farfan 90'), Chris Pontius (Conor Doyle 66')
Subs not used: GK-Andrew Dykstra; D-Kofi Opare, Luke Mishu; M-Jared Jeffrey
DCU - Arrieta (Rolfe, Arnaud) 58'