Impact earns the win with convincing play against slumping conference opponents D.C. United. Having come off a very disappointing loss in the Canadian Championship final, the Impact needed the win for themselves and their fans. A few players were able to get an opportunity in this game, with injuries adding up and international duty leaving gaps in the lineup.
Early into the game, Montreal’s midfield was dominant finding space and keeping position to create great opportunities. The Swiss international, Blerim was extremely dominant creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. All that was needed for the Impact to win was 2 minutes. Bernardello running up the middle passed to Dzemaili who took advantage of the space being left to him and unleashing a strong shot from outside the box. The keeper was left stunned and angry at his teammates for allowing a player of that caliber to have that much space. A few minutes later, Duvall running down the left side of the pitch passed the ball to Dzemaili. Dzemaili lobbed the ball over the defence to the feet of the Duvall, who had intelligently continued his run and volleyed the ball into the right bottom corner. Dzemaili’s goal seemed to leave the players of D.C. United’s nervous not wanting to give him that space again but consequently they provided him with the opportunity to distribute the ball perfectly to Duvall. Before the end of the half, Ballou seemed to have the third of the Impact but his shot was just tipped over the horizontal bar by the keeper. The defence of the Impact was extremely solid in the first half. One worrisome play left the defence scrambling but Camara and Fisher came up with two extremely important blocks.
It was obvious that D.C. United would come out full force in the second half but their dominant defensive play and ball control made it much more difficult for their opponents to create anything legitimate. Oduro and Mancosu both had opportunities to put the game out of reach for D.C. United but could not finish the chances create by Dzemaili and Salazar. Acosta almost closed down the gap towards the end of the game but his shot hit the post.
Overall, the Impact was dominant and had few defensive struggles. Fisher and Ciman are a great defensive pairing and the midfield managed to play a great game, even with the absence of key players like Piatti and Bernier. With the Gold Cup break coming and much needed rest on the horizon it will be important to push through on Wednesday against Houston. The Impact must take advantage of the games at hand and go into the break in a good position.
· Blerim Dzemaili: Man of the match with reason, it will be interesting to see what the Swiss international can do statistically with the remainder of the season. MVP? Newcomer of the Year? He is definitely the maestro of the midfield, directing the players around and being the example for youngsters like Ballou and Salazar.
· Ballou needs to seize the opportunity: Ballou has a bright future ahead of him and coinciding with the injury to Piatti he was given the opportunity to play on the wing he prefers. Aspects of his game still need maturity: self-control, avoiding the useless yellow he received, and learn that less is more. At times he had opportunities to build plays and run up the pitch but trying the take on three defenders alone he would lose the ball.
· Great play but no finish: This game could have easily been 5-0. In the first half Oduro was left alone in front of the keeper but sky rocketed the ball in the stands. In the second half, Dzemaili and Salazar linked up on a few nice plays that left Mancosu and Oduro with great opportunities but both were unable to seize the opportunities being handed to them on silver platters.
MTL –GK-Evan Bush; D-Chris Duvall, Kyle Fisher, Laurent Ciman, Hassoun Camara; M-Marco Donadel, Hernan Bernardello, Ballou Tabla (Michael Salazar 59’), Blerim Dzemaili (Calum Mallace, 88’), Dominic Oduro; F-Matteo Mancosu (Nick DePuy 70’)
Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Victor Cabrera, Wandrille Lefèvre, Louis-Béland-Goyette
DCU – GK-Travis Worra; D-Chris Korb (Chris Odoi-Atsem 69’), Kofi Opare, Steve Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp; M-Ian Harkes, Lloyd Sam (José Guillermo Ortiz 72’), Luciano Acosta, Marcelo Sarvas, Patrick Nyarko; F-Deshorn Brown (Lamar Neagle 55’)
Subs not used: Eric Klenofsky, Jalen Robinson, Jared Jeffrey, Julian Buescher
MTL – Dzemaili (Bernardello) 21’
MTL – Duvall (Dzemaili) 23’
MTL – Tabla 22’
MTL – Mancosu 26’
DCU – Sam 45’ + 1’
MTL – Camara 82’