MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact channeled the energy of a pulsating crowd into arguably their best performance as an MLS franchise on Saturday, coasting past the Seattle Sounders in a 4-1 romp to christen Saputo Stadium.
Brazilian playmaker Felipe scored on a pitch-perfect right-footed finish in the 18th minute and Justin Mapp and rookie Andrew Wenger each added a goal in the second half for the Impact (4-7-3), who came back from the league’s two-week international break with aplomb in their renovated new home built in the shadow of Memorial Stadium.
Lamar Neagle added a fourth goal in the 87th minute thanks to a pesky surge into the box and a defensive miscue by the Sounders, who used Neagle as part of a trade to land Eddie Johnson during the preseason.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
The result was a sobering one for the Sounders (7-4-3), who were in deep trouble even before they found themselves down to 10 men following a Jhon Kennedy Hurtado red card early in the second half. Johnson scored his fourth goal of the season in the 61st minute for Seattle, who saw their 10-game unbeaten streak on the road snapped and their frustrating winless streak in league play surge to five games.
Felipe’s goal in the early going was the first at the Impact’s new stadium, which wasn’t entirely finished when the home crowd came surging through the gate on a sparkling afternoon in Montreal. A section of the stadium remains under construction on the West end and will eventually house roughly 900 more fans.
That didn’t matter much to Felipe or midfielder Patrice Bernier, who set up the inaugural goal with his own bit of playmaking on the outside of the box. The Canadian international skirted around Sounders defender Zach Scott and dished to Felipe, who promptly curled a shot past goalkeeper Bryan Meredith for his second goal of the season.
Mapp got in on the scoring in the 51st minute, pouring through the Seattle midfield from the left flank and to the top of the box, where he coolly slotted a right-footed shot to pad the lead and send the crowd into a frenzy.
It got worse for the Sounders in the 56th minute, when Hurtado cut down midfielder Collen Warner as he surged into space toward the Seattle penalty box, drawing a straight red card from referee Mark Geiger.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: Felipe's midfield domination
Wenger’s goal came just two minutes later, again courtesy of a timely play from Bernier. He seized on a turnover from Seattle’s Álvaro Fernandez and funneled a pass into the box to a streaking Wenger, who rocketed a right-footed shot to the near post for his second goal of the season.
Johnson’s goal likely would have lit a fuse for the Sounders on any other night, but it was simply too little too late this time out. The buildup was ideal from Fernandez to striker Fredy Montero and a cool finish from Johnson, but the Sounders struggled to find the final touch much of the night.
The quartet of Johnson, Montero, Fernandez and midfielder Mauro Rosales suited up for the first time together this season for the Sounders, but midfielder Oswaldo Alonso missed the game while finishing up a two-game suspension.
The only bad news for the Impact was an apparent right knee injury to defender Matteo Ferrari, who landed awkwardly while challenging Meredith for a header in the 30th minute and had to be replaced with Shavar Thomas.
The Impact return to action on Wednesday at Chivas USA, while the Sounders host Sporting Kansas City the same night.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Felipe (MTL)||His stadium-christening goal was a masterstroke, and his constant pressing in attack overwhelmed the Sounders midfield|
|2||Patrice Bernier (MTL)||Three nice assists and a steady control at holding midfield|
|3||Nelson Rivas (MTL)||After his early-season injuries, he's showing exactly why his resume includes Inter Milan. Dominated in the back all night.|