MONTREAL – Would it be FC Dallas getting out of their slump? Or the Montreal Impact?
In the end, the answer was neither.
A record 20,801 crowd at Stade Saputo saw Montreal and Dallas play to a goalless draw on Saturday night, a result that extended Montreal's winless streak to five and Dallas's to eight. To make matters worse, although it was a seventh clean sheet for FCD's Raul Fernandez, this was also the fourth consecutive game they have gone goal-less.
Both teams now have 32 points, but Montreal are second in the East and Dallas fourth in the West.
It was a fiery, attack-heavy game played by the home side, who outshot the visitors 15-6, including a 4-2 advantage in shots on goal. They also outpossessed Dallas, 62% to 38%.
But time and again, Dallas were up to the task defensively. Fernandez finished the night with four saves, and he made more than a few plays on crosses before the game was done.
Playing as a lone striker for the first time this season, Daniele Paponi nearly gave Montreal a perfect start three minutes in. The Italian found space between Jair Benitez and Matt Hedges and took a touch forward on Felipe’s through pass. Benitez managed to recover and deflected the attempt out for a corner.
Eric Hassli came just short of making Paponi bemoan his missed opportunity in the 10th minute. With his back to goal, Hassli cushioned the ball, turned and forced Troy Perkins into a dive to his left to tip the ball wide. Je-Vaughn Watson headed another fine opportunity right into Perkins’ arms from a Zach Loyd cross on 36 minutes, but it was all Impact otherwise.
Justin Mapp smacked a shot against the crossbar in the 26th minute, and just before the break, Paponi took a touch inside from the left to curl a low shot which Raul Fernandez beat away. Davy Arnaud, who had fed Paponi in the first place, followed the rebound but George John blocked his attempt.
- OPTA CHALKBOARD: Patrice Bernier's incredible impact
The second half took time to get on, but a 72nd-minute Dallas set play finally set some tone. The corner kick attempt worried Montreal before they cleared their area, but they then countered with seldom-seen intent during the game. Substitute Andres Romero ultimately found Nyassi between two defenders, but the Gambian's shot went right into Zach Loyd.
Mapp again, Jeb Brovsky and substitute Andrew Wenger all tried to break the deadlock in the following minutes, but to no avail. Finally, Hassli’s efforts in the 84th, when he swiveled through the defense, could have handed them all three. But his shot was stopped, and Dallas held on for the road point.
FC Dallas will enjoy a bye week before traveling West to face the Sounders in Seattle on August 3. Montreal, for their part, will remain at Stade Saputo next week as they welcome Sporting Kansas City on July 27.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Zach Loyd (DAL)||Tireless work on the right flank tamped down more than a few speedy attacks; stepped up into the attack on a few occasions.|
|2||Justin Mapp (MTL)||Off the crossbar, two or three dangerous crosses -- he was the most decisive attacker for Montreal. Needed some help.|
|3||Raul Fernandez (DAL)||Made four saves on the night, but was vital on other occasions, particularly coming for crosses on set pieces.|