Preparation pays off as Impact stun Eastern Conference leading Revolution

MONTREAL – They’d won five on the trot. They’d put five past the Sounders, past the Union.

They are the New England Revolution. And the last-placed Montreal Impact stifled them on Saturday night at Stade Saputo in a 2-0 win.

True, New England didn’t help themselves. Restricted to three shots on target, they were kept at bay by a surprisingly solid Montreal defense that had, in their first 11 games, given up 22 goals.

For Montreal head coach Frank Klopas, it started up top. With Revolution midfielder Andy Dorman dropping between his center backs to pick up the ball, Klopas asked forwards Marco Di Vaio and Jack McInerney to drop back themselves in the hope that New England would play direct balls out wide.

“Then it was our ability to track runners,” Klopas told reporters postgame. “They do a good job, with [Diego] Fagundez, the diagonal runs that he makes on the weak side, and our ability to follow that. It was a big game for Hernan [Bernardello] and Felipe, to match up with [Lee] Nguyen, because he’s very dangerous on late runs. We were able to pick up second balls, and then our ability to find the pockets to the left and right of Dorman were the key.”

More than the performance and result, what pleased Klopas was the reflection, during the game, of the efforts put in during the week.

“We worked on that in training, and you could see a lot of the patterns that we did were spot on,” Klopas said.

For McInerney, who scored the second and contributed to Andres Romero’s opener by beautifully plucking the ball out of the air in front of Chris Tierney, the work the Impact put in during the second half of their midweek game against Toronto in the Amway Canadian Championship was also key.

“We really came out and I wouldn’t say we touched the ball that much, me and Marco, but the movement was there and the work rate was there,” McInerney told MLSsoccer.com. “I was confident for us to get the goal at the end of the game, and we wanted to carry that over into this game. Definitely, it showed in the first half.”

Then, it was about holding on. Given their tricky situation, Montreal’s keeping the clean sheet was commendable.

“When teams aren’t going well, it’s easy to concede two goals in two minutes and it changes the game,” Impact centerback Wandrille Lefèvre told reporters in French.

“Today, we really stayed focused from A to Z, from the first minute to the last.”

Olivier Tremblay covers the Montreal Impact for MLSsoccer.com.