MONTREAL – It was a lesson in divergent fortunes. Montreal, now boasting four straight wins, on one end of the spectrum while New York remained at the opposite, still winless on the young season.
The difference between the Impact and Red Bulls on Saturday at Olympic Stadium in a 1-0 victory for the home team was Italian forward Marco Di Vaio, who the assistant referee flagged six times for offside but still made the one perfectly timed run that separated the sides. Di Vaio scored his second goal of the season in the 14th minute, latching onto a Patrice Bernier feed – his his league-leading third game-winning assist this season – and finishing past Red Bulls' goalkeeper Luis Robles.
Montreal now sit atop the Eastern Conference table on 12 points, with a difficult match in Kansas City coming up next Saturday, while New York are still searching for three points, headed home in a week's time for a rivalry match against Philadelphia.
OPTA Chalkboard: Red Bulls keep the ball, but Impact make most of their chances
The Red Bulls were missing Thierry Henry (injury) and Tim Cahill (international duty) and were understandably hungry for a goal early on, applying good pressure in the opening moments of the match but failing to take control of the encounter.
Montreal took their chance, though, as the opener came a quarter of an hour into the match when Heath Pearce's headed clearance attempt fell to Bernier, who curled the ball first time between Markus Holgersson and Brandon Barklage. Taking a touch wasn’t even necessary for Di Vaio, who followed the ball’s path and calmly buried his second career goal against New York with his left foot.
Montreal came close to adding a second nine minutes later when Felipe forced Robles into a diving save to his left, but New York also had their moments and forced the Montreal defense into a number of last-ditch interventions in both halves. However, Troy Perkins able to squash their opportunities one by one.
Juninho’s dead-ball service almost got New York their equalizer in the 38th minute, when the Brazilian played a free kick he had won himself to the far post. Pearce and debutant Péguy Luyindula both missed fine chances on the sequence, allowing Montreal to escape unscathed.
FULL LINEUPS AND BOX SCORE
New York came out for the second half with newfound vigor, holding the ball for long periods and at one point eliciting whistles from the 26,529-strong Montreal crowd. The Impact were suddenly playing on their heels, with runs from deep causing them a fair share of trouble. Perkins came up big on a number of occasions, most notably in the 71st minute when he stopped Luyindula from close range.
The Impact remained dangerous when possession transitioned, though, and Andrea Pisanu, Andres Romero and Di Vaio all missed fine chances to give their team a bit of breathing space. It was ultimately Brandon Barklage that provided it, picking up his second yellow card in the 74th minute and heading for the showers to allow Montreal to close out their fourth win on the trot.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Patrice Bernier||Bernier may be MLS' best player so far, and his one-touch assist was the most brilliant play in a complete performance.|
|2||Marco Di Vaio||In a game rife with missed opportunities, Di Vaio's whiff was the most aggregious. But, and it's a big but, it doesn't matter when you score the game winner.|
|3||Juninho||Juninho, along with Dax McCarty, kept the ball all match. More importantly, his service resulted in the visitor's best chances.|