MONTREAL – Call it the Stade Saputo effect. Every match at the Montreal Impact’s home stadium seems to be hotly contested, and of late, the Impact have come out on top.
On Saturday, the Impact won their fourth straight home match, topping the MLS-leading San Jose Earthquakes, 3-1, in a feisty, card-filled clash in front of a sold-out crowd.
San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski broke his four-game drought with his league-leading 18th of the season, but Marco Di Vaio replied two minutes later and the Impact got second-half goals from Lamar Neagle and Patrice Bernier to secure the three points.
Despite the goals, the main talking point was a 21st-minute altercation between San Jose’s Steven Lenhart and Montreal’s Hassoun Camara that saw both players red carded. The pair got tangled up early in the match, and then later battled for a cross. After the play appeared dead, they both swung their arms and were handed their marching orders.
Full Match Highlights
But the play also resulted in a penalty being called in favor of San Jose, and Wondolowski blasted the spot kick low to Troy Perkins’ right to give the visitors the lead.
The Impact took no time to answer back. Di Vaio sent a long pass towards the right side of the San Jose area, where Felipe beautifully controlled the ball in mid-air, beating Justin Morrow in the process. The Brazilian’s low cross found Di Vaio at the far post, and the Italian roofed the ball home for his second since joining the club in June.
The Earthquakes kept their cool — and the ball. They eventually finished with 54.1 percent of the possession on the night. Morrow and Simon Dawkins, in particular, pushed forward looking for the go-ahead goal. But the two sides went into the locker room all square.
After such an eventful first half, the tempo understandably died down in the second.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: Impact strike 7 of 17 shots on target
Montreal finally broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute. Bernier displayed some fancy footwork on the edge of the San Jose box and dished the ball to Neagle, who curled a 22-yard shot past goalkeeper Jon Busch. It was Neagle’s second goal of the season.
As San Jose pushed for an equalizer, space opened for Montreal to exploit. In the 71st minute, Neagle released Di Vaio in behind the Quakes defense, and Jason Hernandez brought him down in the box from behind. The referee showed Hernandez a red card for denying a clear scoring opportunity, and Bernier converted the ensuing penalty to put the game beyond doubt.
The three points lifts Montreal into fifth place in the East, level on points with D.C. United, though the Impact have played five more games than United, who take on Philadelphia on Sunday. Montreal then host D.C. on Aug. 25.
The Quakes remain in first in the West, uncatchable this weekend. They next head home to face the Colorado Rapids, also on Aug. 25.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Lamar Neagle||Showed his ability and willingness to jump into the attack, curled in a lovely 2nd-half winner and had an assist.|
|2||Felipe||A workaholic going forward all night, and had the touch of the match to set up the Impact's first goal.|
|3||Simon Dawkins||The most consistently threatening Quake on a frustrating night for the visitors.|