Preview: Impact, Union battle to catch up in East playoff race
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION
STADE SAPUTO, Montreal, Que.
August 4, 2012 (WEEK 22, MLS Game #207)
7:30 p.m. ET (TVA; TCN-Phi)
The Montréal Impact and Philadelphia Union meet on Saturday evening at Stade Saputo in a huge match for both clubs as they look to pull themselves back into the MLS Cup Playoffs reckoning. The teams are separated by four points, sitting in the first two positions outside the top five and qualification spots. The Impact are coming off an impressive 3-1 home win against East leader New York last weekend, while Union again provided some late heroics for a 2-1 comeback win against New England.
REFEREE: Ismail Elfath. SAR (bench): Anthony Vasoli; JAR (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Fotis Bazakos
Elfath's MLS career: 3 games; FC/gm: 23.7; Y/gm: 2.0; R: 2; pens: 3
- MONTREAL IMPACT – OUT: DF Zarek Valentin (L ankle sprain); FW Bernardo Corradi (L knee ACL tear)
- PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); DOUBTFUL: MF Michael Farfan (L foot contusion); QUESTIONABLE: DF Chris Albright (R groin strain); PROBABLE: DF Bakary Soumare (R knee menisectomy recovery)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Michael Farfan
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: MTL: Bernardo Corradi, Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner ... PHI: Brian Carroll, Gabriel Gomez, Carlos Valdes, Lionard Pajoy, Gabriel Farfan
ALL-TIME (1 meeting): Impact 0 wins, 1 goal ... Union 1 win, 2 goals ... Ties 0
- The teams are meeting for the second time, in a space of three weeks. A stoppage-time goal from defender Carlos Valdés gave Union a 2-1 win May 14 at PPL Park.
- Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. MTL: P1 W1 L0 T0 ... Jesse Marsch vs. PHI: P1 W0 L1 T0
LAST MEETING (MLS)
7/14: PHI 2, MTL 1 (Pajoy 82; Valdes 91+ – own goal 89)
- Union took the lead in the 82nd minute. Substitute Antoine Hoppenot kept the ball alive along the end line and drove it toward goal. After the ball bounced off a defender and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, Lionard Pajoy banged home the loose ball right in front of goal.
- But the Impact leveled the score just seven minutes later after a Patrice Bernier corner kick bounced off the head of Union midfielder Keon Daniel and into the goal.
- But the home side netted the winner in stoppage time. Sheanon Williams sent in a long throw-in from the right flank, the ball bounced off a defender, and captain Carlos Valdés pounced it and drove into the goal for the decider. Davy Arnaud and Felipe came back into the team in place of Lamar Neagle and Sanna Nyassi.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan - Michael Lahoud (Gabriel Gomez 66), Brian Carroll - Freddy Adu (Lionard Pajoy 46), Keon Daniel, Josue Martinez (Antoine Hoppenot 60) - Jack McInerney.
- MONTREAL IMPACT (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Zarek Valentin (Dennis Iapichino 85), Shavar Thomas, Hassoun Camara, Jeb Brovsky - Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 84) - Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Justin Mapp (Lamar Neagle 69) - Marco Di Vaio.
The Montréal Impact won their third consecutive home match, defeating the New York Red Bulls 3-1 on Saturday evening at Stade Saputo. The Impact are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points from 24 matches.
HIGHLIGHTS: MTL 3, NY 1
- The Impact broke open the match early in the second half. First, in the 48th minute, Justin Mapp completed a passing movement with a first-time to an unmarked Marco Di Vaio on the left side of the area, and he put a low finish past New York goalkeeper Bill Gaudette.
- The lead was doubled two minutes later when Felipe sent Davy Arnaud through behind the New York backline and in alone on goal. The Red Bulls ‘keeper did get a hand to the Impact skipper’s shot, but it ultimately found the back of the net.
- New York pulled a goal back in the 57th minute when Joel Lindpere got to the endline and pulled a cross back for Thierry Henry at the far post, and he lofted a gentle touch over Impact 'keeper Donovan Ricketts as he came off his line.
- But Montreal restored their cushion in the 75th minute when Sanna Nyassi capped another passing sequence by rounding Gaudette deep in the area and sliding home from a tight angle.
- Impact head coach Jesse Marsch made five changes to the team that fell 3-0 to the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Alessandro Nesta, Nelson Rivas and Jeb Brovsky came into the back four for Zarek Valentin, Shavar Thomas and Dennis Iapichino, and Collen Warner and Justin Mapp came into the midfield for Lamar and Sanna Nyassi.
- MONTREAL IMPACT (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Hassoun Camara, Alessandro Nesta, Nelson Rivas (Matteo Ferrari 78), Jeb Brovsky - Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner - Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins (Andrew Wenger 87), Justin Mapp (Sanna Nyassi 61) - Marco Di Vaio.
- The Impact have now reeled off three consecutive victories at Stade Saputo, but they have lost their last five away matches. They have not recorded a draw since May 12 (13 matches).
- Despite some of the results recently on the road, there has been positive momentum in the team. If the Philly or Houston games go a bit differently, we may have different results,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch. “We are getting some guys healthy and that helps with confidence as we have everyone ready for us.”
- Making his eighth appearance for the Impact and his sixth consecutive start, Marco Di Vaio finally opened his MLS goalscoring account with the opening goal.
- “I felt really happy for him,” Alessandro Nesta said. “It's been a few games already and he hadn't scored, but he finally has, and in a very important game against New York.”
- Nesta also made his MLS debut, the Italy World Cup winner starting in central defense alongside Nelson Rivas.
- “Everything that you see in him is that he is real. The way he sees plays to the way he talks to his teammates. His leadership and the knowledge of what it takes to win will help this team. He showed as the game went on that he was getting stronger,” said Marsch.
- Rivas returned to the lineup for the first time since June 23, missing seven matches with an abdominal strain.
- “It doesn't take away from anything that Shavar [Thomas] or Hassoun [Camara] did when they played in there, but those guys help settle the game down and make sense of things for us,” Marsch said.
- Felipe recorded his first career three-assist game in MLS, and has six assists in the last nine games. His eight assists for the season rank sixth in MLS, two off the league lead held by D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario and Houston’s Brad Davis.
- “That’s the position where I need to play, because I have more space and I am free to move to both sides, to drop deeper, to go higher,” Felipe said. “I feel better when I play there, but if the coach plays me as a ‘keeper, I’ll play.”
- While he went back to the substitutes’ bench following two consecutive starts, Sanna Nyassi scored his second goal in three games.
- “That’s what a deep team is all about,” Nyassi said. “It doesn’t matter who starts. Whenever you start, or you come on as a sub, you help your team win in any way possible. And that’s what I did – I complemented the effort that my team put in. They had a great first half, and I just came in the second half [and] put the game away.”
Philadelphia Union once again provided some dramatics for a victory, getting a late game-winner for a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution on Sunday evening at PPL Park. Union are in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points from 19 games.
- The Revolution opened the scoring in the 12th minute. Saer Sène collected the ball in midfield fired a blast from distance that knuckled past confused Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
- But Union pulled level in the 59th minute when Freddy Adu banged home a penalty kick, after New England’s Kevin Alston was whistled for a foul for taking down Jack McInerney right at the edge of the 18-yard box.
- McInerney then completed the Union comeback in the 90th minute, waiting at the back post to head home a cross from Sheanon Williams that sailed over New England goalkeeper Matt Reis for the match-winner.
- Union interim manager John Hackworth made three changes to the team that fell to a 2-0 defeat by the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Gabriel Gomez, Antoine Hoppenot and Freddy Adu all came into the side, in place of Josue Martinez, Michael Lahoud and Lionard Pajoy.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan - Gabriel Gomez (Michael Lahoud 59), Brian Carroll - Antoine Hoppenot (Lionard Pajoy 78), Michael Farfan, Freddy Adu (Josue Martinez 82) - Jack McInerney.
HIGHLIGHTS: PHI 2, NE 1
- It was the first time, in 11 games where they’ve conceded the opening goal, Union came back to secure a victory (they had just one tie in the previous 10). Only Seattle Sounders FC have yet to win after allowing the opening goal this season.
- “We have another first in our season, and that’s really important, because to be at this point in our season, and not even to come back to get a result,” said Union head coach John Hackworth. “To do it in the fashion that we did, and get a win and three points, it’s huge. So I think you see the character of these players.”
- For the third time since Hackworth took over as head coach, Union won with the match-winning goal coming in the 90th minute or later.
- “Proves our team has fight. It’s going to be a fight the rest of the season. Those are the kind of games we need to win,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “Those are games maybe in the beginning of the season that maybe didn’t go our way and now are starting to fall our way. So we’ll take all the points we can get right now.”
- Union have now won five of their last seven games, yet have only moved from sole possession of ninth place in the Eastern Conference to a tie for eighth place with New England.
- “We talked about before the game that we wanted to move up in the standings and we did that,” said Williams. “We got a lot of games on Montreal. I think it’s four right now. So we’re on their back and we’re coming for their spot. And we’re on a good run and hopefully we’ll continue that.”
- Making his fifth consecutive start in attack and his seventh in eight games since Hackworth took over, Jack McInerney scored his fourth goal – his first since July 4.
- Freddy Adu returned to the lineup after a one-match absence and converted the penalty kick for the opening goal, his second goal in four games.
- “I think the fact that he trained hard all week and that he was really good and that he played really well tonight says a lot more for me than if he scores a goal or not,” Hackworth said. “We need Freddy to be important for our team if we’re going to be successful."
- Rookie Antoine Hoppenot made his first career MLS start, after coming off the substitutes’ bench for eight consecutive matches.
- “It was a little different. This was his first start. The chemistry wasn’t always there, but we found some good spots and I think we worked well off each other,” said McInerney. “If we get a couple more games, we’re just going to get better.”
- “A guy like Antoine did really well in his first start, but now we’re going away and playing in a very tough environment against a team that has been very good at home,” Hackworth said. “So we have to think about what can allow us the chance to have the most success there.”