MONTREAL — Neither the Impact nor Sporting Kansas City could find a goal on a damp Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo, both teams having to settle for a share of the points.
Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen comfortably picked up his league-leading 14th shutout, and the club extended its unbeaten streak to eight games. The Eastern Conference leaders are now five points clear at the top of the table, having earned five points in a three-games-in-eight-days stretch.
Montreal, meanwhile, remain in 7th place in the East, six points behind 5th-place Houston with a mere three games left on their schedule.
Kansas City largely monopolized the ball in the first half, their typical approach of pressing heavily on the road paying dividends as the Impact struggled to string many passes together.
Despite this, Kansas City struggled, like Montreal, to create chances. Their best opportunity came through a Graham Zusi effort in the 12th minute. KC’s No. 8 took advantage of a missed Matteo Ferrari challenge to curl a shot low and wide at the far post.
Montreal's best chance in the first half originated from a set piece. Meters away from the top right corner of Jimmy Nielsen’s penalty box, Marco Di Vaio worked a short free kick with Justin Mapp. Much to Nielsen’s annoyance, Mapp was allowed to take a shot, which fizzled into the advertising boards.
Rookie forward Andrew Wenger joined Marco Di Vaio up front at halftime, with Felipe shifting to left midfield. Six minutes into the half, the Brazilian displayed fancy footwork on the edge of the area and fed Wenger, but Nielsen saved the forward’s deflected ball. Another play stemming from an effort down the left saw Davy Arnaud narrowly miss from a tough angle in the 68th.
OPTA Chalkboard: Arnaud's busy day
Montreal, desperate to stay in the playoff chase, committed more men forward in the last quarter of an hour and were almost rewarded in stoppage time. Matteo Ferrari’s header off a Di Vaio free kick had power but was stopped by Nielsen.
The Impact will be on the road for their next two games, starting Saturday, October 6, against the Houston Dynamo with their playoff lives in the balance.
Sporting will host the Chicago Fire at Livestrong Sporting Park next Friday, September 28, in a 1-v-2 Eastern Conference clash.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Davy Arnaud (MTL)||All over the pitch against his former club, and came within inches of giving them all three points.|
|2||Jacob Peterson (SKC)||Before his inexplicable red card from the bench after being subbed out, Peterson was relentless in pressuring the ball in both halves in his return to the XI.|
|3||Patrice Bernier (MTL)||In the middle of the action for the Impact all day long. Always causes problems for Sporting with his presence on the ball.|