MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact are on the verge of their first MLS Cup playoff appearance in team history after a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo.
Impact Designated Player Marco Di Vaio and Homegrown Player Karl W. Ouimette rescued Montreal in the 2-1 victory after Fabinho gave visiting Philadelphia a deserved first-half lead.
With 49 points, Montreal are a New England draw or loss away from earning a postseason berth. Philadelphia, meanwhile, remain on 46 points, a total that could leave them sitting in 7th place by Sunday morning.
Montreal were menacing to start, but they didn’t put Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath to the test, their attacks foiled by a backline brilliantly marshalled by Jeff Parke.
That left the door open for Philadelphia, who grew in confidence with every passing minute until they seized the lead in the 29th minute. Kléberson’s tremendous through ball found Fabinho’s run on the left, which was followed by an accurate, powerful finish from an acute angle into the roof of the net.
The Brazilian duo had threatened earlier, as a Fabinho corner was redirected by Conor Casey crashed onto the crossbar, while Kléberson had a thumping shot deflected off Patrice Bernier for a corner. Philadelphia looked good value for their lead.
It took a change to a 4-4-2 formation for Montreal to find their swagger in the second half, and they found a breakthrough in the 64th minute.
Impact captain Davy Arnaud played a short pass behind him to Di Vaio, who turned on Union defender Amobi Okugo and curled a shot with his right foot. The ball bounced off a defender, but still found the back of the net and allowed Di Vaio to become the 11th player in MLS history to score 20 goals in a season.
The goal resurrected Montreal, who committed increasing numbers forward but three chances went begging for Di Vaio. Justin Mapp missed one as well.
But in the end, it came down to an area of the play where Montreal have often been weak – set plays. In the 84th minute, former Union player Justin Mapp took a free kick conceded by Raymon Gaddis. The ball ultimately reached a wide-open Ouimette at the far post, and the youngster’s header hit bodies along the way but somehow trickled in for a potentially playoff-clinching goal.
Both Montreal and Philadelphia play their last game of the regular season next Saturday, October 26. The Impact are off to archrivals Toronto, while the Union host Sporting Kansas City at PPL Park.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Marco Di Vaio||After a quiet first half, Di Vaio turned it up with the season on the line after the break. Showed plenty of drive and scored a classic Di Vaio goal as he set the tone for his team's comeback.|
|2||Jeff Parke||Numerous defensive plays gave the impression it could be the Union's day at Stade Saputo. But the visitors dropped too far back in the second half and paid the consequences.|
|3||Conor Casey||A one-man wrecking crew, seemingly taking on the entire Impact back line on his own. If the Union can sneak into playoffs, Casey looks like he's just hitting prime form.|