As rain poured down on the CenturyLink FieldTurf in Seattle, snow slowly waltzed to the ground in Montreal, as if the wee hours of the morning of March 3 were an early Christmas, starring Davy Arnaud as the gift that keeps on giving.
The Impact skipper did it again on Saturday night. He scored the opening goal of the team’s season, this time by finishing Felipe’s wonderfully lobbed pass with a wonderful lob of his own – over a 6-foot-5 goalkeeper, no less.
“Most importantly, the result, this time, was three points,” Arnaud told MLSsoccer.com by phone after his team upset the Seattle Sounders by a score of 1-0. “And it happened in a very tough place to play as well. That was the best part of [scoring the goal].”
The goal rewarded the cagey approach that Montreal, wary of Seattle’s threat out wide and up top, adopted. A blocked cross, six passes and 17 seconds was all it took for the Impact to race from defense into attack and carve out their winner.
It was then a question of holding on to the lead, though Montreal could have extended it through their captain again in the second half. Seattle pressed and pressed, looking for all the world like they would equalize. But compared to the closing stages of certain games in 2012 where the team surrendered a litany of late goals, this looked like a dramatically different Impact.
“I don’t think that, at any point, we panicked,” Arnaud said. “We held a good shape, had our moments where we kept the ball and we created some good chances. They were pressing the game at times, but the way we handled it was very good.”
Doing so on the road – in noisy Seattle, of all places – is all the more commendable. Montreal’s form on the road, Arnaud pointed out, was “our biggest downfall” last season. One weekend into the new season, they’ve already picked up a third of the total away points they brought home to Montreal in all of 2012.
“We’ve got a lot of guys with experience, we have a full season under our belt and our new coach insists a lot on staying mentally focused, staying strong,” midfielder Patrice Bernier told MLSsoccer.com. “And the four guys we have at the back show those characteristics that allow you to play well defensively.
“Today, we showed that we’ve grown. That we’ve learned our lessons.”