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Impact’s Happy Homecoming

Quioto and Lappalainen on target to sink shot-shy Whitecaps.... IMFC.... 2 Whitecaps.... 0

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Montreal Impact
Lassi Lappalainen slots home Montreal’s second goal of the night past Hasal and his first of the season
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Impact went to 4th place in the Eastern Conference standings thanks to a record MLS victory over Vancouver Whitecaps. It’s the first time ever in the competition that the Impact has defeated the Whitecaps by a two-goal margin.

There was a first start in almost eleven months too for Lassi Lappalainen and how he punished Vancouver with his pace for last night’s second goal on 40 mins. Moving well after injury problems, the Finnish winger was unsuccessful in early one-to-ones with Veselinovic, but when he accelerated past the Serb onto Maciel’s delightfully flighted ball there was no way the defender was getting back.

Lappalainen kept a cool head to roll the ball past Hasal in his first Stade Saputo outing. The goal was reminiscent of the pair the Finn scored on his debut against Philadelphia a year ago.

The Impact looked much better balanced than at any time since the season’s early days, but it must be remembered that Vancouver is a side in disarray, no goals now in their last four outings, and not looking likely to change that any time soon either on last night’s evidence.
Marquee signing Lucas Cavallini was given the opportunity to throw his side a lifeline within five minutes of the restart after Brault-Guillard’s careless challenge on Cornelius (the youngster remains prone to error) resulted in the award of a penalty.

To say the Canadian international’s spot-kick was dire probably understates, but Diop was able to save much too comfortably. My grandmother would have stopped it, and she’s been dead 30 years! Was this really the same Cavallini I saw prove a handful to the USA in Toronto towards the end of last season? To be fair the service he received was lacking, but he looked abject, disjointed and uninterested. Almost as though he feels he’s made a mistake leaving LigaMX for Vancouver.

I expected him to prove a test for young Luis Binks, but the Canadian didn’t provide so much as nuisance value. Binks was imperious throughout, strolled through the game, it was too easy. Probably didn’t even require showering afterwards. What a shame he departs at year end.

When you are struggling to get results seeing your top talisman fail so miserably has to be soul-destroying for coach Marc Dos Santos, whose tenure out west must by now be severely under threat. There’s been a complete transfusion of players at the Whitecaps, but they seem only to be heading in the opposite direction to the one desired.

The ‘Caps may do better when they return home to BC Place. They simply must.

Montreal’s midfield were in control last night from the moment Quioto’s thunderous header from Taider’s delicious cross put the home side in front. Midfield configuration is a guessing game at Stade Saputo these days as the coach tinkers with how best to play Wanyama and Piette in the same eleven, but it worked last night. Both were effective even if Piette and his new, more advanced, right-side role don’t always seem compatible

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Montreal Impact
Samuel Piette shows his delight after Romell Quioto (30) had opened the scoring in the 18th minute.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver did pick their game up in the second half after a double half-time substitution, but the penalty incident apart, Montreal rarely looked threatened and indeed could have prevailed by a greater margin. Quioto was a constant nuisance to the visitor’s back three and was praised as someone who can play anywhere across the front line by Thierry Henry in the after-match presser. On this evidence few would disagree. He’s certainly effective, his goal last night was his fourth since joining the Impact.

The usual rash of subs occurred throughout the second period, possibly disrupting the game’s rhythm. There wasn’t, but it seemed at one stage, a replacement introduced every minute. The sooner we get back to the conventional three subs the better.

Beleaguered Dos Santos it seems, was trying one sub after another, like desperate throws of the dice on a losing run, hoping he’d hit on the right number at least once, but the right formula remained elusive.

The Impact will take confidence from last night as they should, although Friday night’s encounter at the same venue when Toronto FC visit, will be a considerably sterner test. A second successive home win, will see Montreal well-placed in this rickety season to launch a play-off bid, and also breath life and interest into a Canadian Championship many feared TFC would run away with, given their perfect start against Vancouver.

The atmosphere was strange last night. Credit the Ultras. Left outside, they still managed to to create beat and sound with their drums and singing from one corner of the stadium. The ‘canned noise’ controller somewhat got it right... eventually, even if his attempts to mimic appropriate levels of volume were lacking in the early stages. All new fangled stuff, so probably natural (unlike the noise).

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Montreal Impact
Keep your distance. Anything but normal, but the resumption of football is an undoubted step in the right direction.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

And those inside the stadium did their spread-out but collective best to create an ambience befitting the occasion.

It was still ghostly, sparse and a little unreal, and left you wondering why another few thousand couldn’t have ben accommodated.

As a sceptic of football without fans, it is a better scenario that we’re up and running again, but still not like the real thing. Never!

I desperately want to see everyone back...

Line-ups -

IMFC - Diop - Brault-Guillard, Camacho, Binks, Raitala - Wanyama - Lappalainen (Okwonkwo, 66), Piette, Taider (Urruti, 55), Maciel - Quioto (Jackson-Hamel, 79)
Subs - Bush, Corrales, Waterman, Bayiha, Sejdic, Shome, Urruti, Jackson-Hamel, Okwonkwo

Whitecaps - Hasal - Veselinovic (Nerwinski, 46), Rose, Cornelius - Dajome (Reyna, 66), Metcalfe (Owusu, 46), Baldisimo (Raposo, 62), Teibert, Adnan - Milinkovic (Ricketts, 76), Cavallini
Subs - Meredith, Gutierrez, Nerwinski, Khimiri, Owusu, Raposo, Ricketts, Bair, Reyna

Match Officials -
Referee - Drew Fisher
Asst Refs - Philippe Briere, Gianni Facchini
4th Official - Fabrizio Stasolla
VAR - David Gantar