Impact learn their lesson, show they can protect lead

MONTREAL – Montreal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch went with the local tongue after his team’s 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday.

“I’m very happy with the team’s performance,” he said in la langue de Molière.

And understandably so. Their victory wasn’t just the Impact’s second of their expansion season, it was their first clean sheet of their MLS tenure. The team had blown quite a few leads this season, most recently letting D.C. United come from behind for a 1-1 tie at RFK Stadium.

HIGHLIGHTS: Montreal 2, Portland 0

But the lesson, said Marsch, has been “delivered and received.”

OPTA Chalkboard: Impact defense neutralizes Portland attack

“When we got the lead, it was like, ‘We’ve been here before, we know how to handle this,’” Marsch told reporters after the game. “We killed the game at different moments. We kept the ball at different moments. We still had opportunities to increase the lead, which we wind up doing.”

In order to protect and increase the lead, Montreal had to take it first, which they struggled to do. Bernardo Corradi and Davy Arnaud both missed excellent chances to make it 1-0, and the Impact had to adjust things at the break.

“At halftime, the message was to keep things moving faster, that it was clear that Portland was trying to kill the game and get set pieces,” Marsch explained. “So we wanted that extra pass and we wanted the game to move faster. When we got fouls: Put it down right away. Play again.”

LINEUPS AND BOX SCORE

Team captain Arnaud, who had a very good game, felt varying the tempo played a major part in protecting the Impact added to it with less than a quarter-hour to go. He said the team felt the sense of urgency could from the Timbers after Sinisa Ubiparipovic’s insurance strike, and the pressure around the Montreal box increased.

“We handled [the pressure] pretty well,” Arnaud said. “I think they had one good look at the very end, but we defended well. Our shape, for the most part, was good. We did a good job of keeping possession a little bit, being a little smarter, holding up the ball for a corner, wasting some time. Overall, I think we did pretty good.”