MONTREAL — Behind a first-half goal from Ali Gerba, the Montreal Impact beat the MLS Eastern Conference-leading New York Red Bulls 1-0 in front of a crowd of 12,568 crowd at Stade Saputo in a friendly on Wednesday night.
Former Toronto FC striker and Canadian international Gerba took advantage of a Philippe Billy cross in the 37th minute, splitting New York’s defense to head the ball past former Impact goalkeeper Greg Sutton for the only goal on the evening.
It was New York who created the best chances early in the first half. In the 25th minute, Dwayne De Rosario grabbed a loose ball and beat Montreal 'keeper Evan Bush to the right upright, only to see the ball hit the post.
In the 34th minute, Thierry Henry thought he had scored the game's opening goal. The French striker flicked the ball past Bush, but his attempt was ruled offside by the linesman.
Two minutes after Gerba's header, Henry's fellow Frenchman Anthony Le Gall nearly doubled the Impact's lead, but the striker put in a volley straight into Sutton's chest.
Both sides made several substitutions at halftime as New York head coach Hans Backe pulled eight players from the starting lineup, including marquee attraction Henry, Rafa Márquez and Canadian star De Rosario. Montreal also made five changes of their own.
Neither side was able to find the back of the net in the second frame, and the Impact were certainly satisfied with keeping the ball.
In the 60th minute, Montreal striker Reda Agourram — who had just came on for goal-scorer Gerba — found himself clear on goal, but was only able to shoot straight at Sutton.
New York's best scoring chance came five minutes later when Juan Agudelo forced a strong shot that seemed to catch Bush by surprise. But the Montreal ‘keeper did well to put the ball out for a corner.
The Impact, who will join MLS in 2012, return to second-division NASL play on Saturday when they host the Carolina RailHawks. The Red Bulls return home to host Chivas USA on Sunday (7 pm, Galavisión).
MTL -- Gerba (Billy) 37’
MTL -- Hatchi (caution) 42’
NY -- Hot (caution) 82’
New York Red Bulls – Greg Sutton (GK), Jan Gunnar Solli (Chris Albright 46’), Rafa Marquez (Carlos Mendes 46’), Tim Ream (Stephen Keel 46’), Roy Miller (Teddy Schneider 46’), Dane Richards (Matt Kassel 46’, Dan Metzger* 84’), Carl Robinson (Tyler Lassiter 42’, Sacir Hot 68’), Dwayne De Rosario (Sean Davis* 46’), Joel Lindpere (John Rooney 46’) Juan Agudelo, Thierry Henry (Corey Hertzog 46’, Brandon Allen* 84’)
Substitutes Not Used: Bouna Coundoul (GK)
Montreal Impact – Evan Bush (GK), Hicham Aaboubou, Philippe Billy, Simon Gatti, Kevin Hatchi, David Testo (Antonio Ribeiro 46’), Luke Kreamalmeyer (Magnane Diouf 46’), Leonardo Di Lorenzo (Pierre-Rudolph Mayard 46’), Amir Lowery (Nicola Princivalli 46’), Ali Gerba (Reda Agourram 58’), Anthony Le Gall (Idriss Ech Cherqui 46’)
Substitutes Not Used: Maxime Crepeau (GK)
Referee: Geoff Gamble
Referee’s Assistants: Philippe Briere, Pierre Cantave
4th Referee: Francis Latulippe
* - Non-Roster Player