MONTREAL – Frank Klopas badly wanted his players to get rewarded for their efforts.
Felipe’s 14th-minute goal, a breath of fresh air over a nervous Stade Saputo, did the trick. It made the difference on Saturday afternoon as the Impact grinded out their first win of the campaign, 1-0, over the Philadelphia Union.
“I feel great for my players,” Klopas told reporters in his postgame press conference. “Every time I sit here in front of [the media], I say the same thing: the training has been good, the energy, the commitment. But it's very important, now with all that hard work, to show something for it. And we did.”
It was not the prettiest of 1-0 wins and there were times when it looked like it could get ugly. But Klopas will take it.
The Impact boss was satisfied with his team’s start to the match, but nevertheless felt Philadelphia taking control the more it went on. But more pleasing to his eye was his side remaining focused to the end and not crumbling under pressure – Philadephia won eight corner kicks in the second half, but Montreal restricted them to one shot on target.
Klopas will likely also feel encouraged by Jack McInerney’s performance. Though he’d rather play up top on a more permanent basis, McInerney started on the left of midfield and gladly mixed things up positionally with Felipe, Marco Di Vaio and Justin Mapp.
“I played three positions in the first half,” McInerney told reporters. “We talked about that in practice, that whoever was closest to the left side would just have to go over there, and it worked out. They never really broke us down and I think that, going forward, we can definitely do that again.”
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Montreal will now enjoy a much-needed boost of confidence as a result of the three points. Klopas encouraged his team to draw not only enthusiasm from the win, but also a willingness to work harder.
“It’s what we do right now that's going to define us as a team,” Klopas said. “We can't talk about, ‘This could have happened or we could have done this.’ The future’s not going to look better if we don’t continue to work hard.”
The message has been heard.
“It was very important for us, in the first game [at Stade Saputo], to win this game,” Felipe told reporters. “Now, we just have to keep [going] this way and keep up the work we did today.”