Convinced Impact better than record, Dzemaili offers masterful performance

MONTREAL -- Montreal Impact midfielder Blerim Dzemaili believes his team is better than their record has shown, even without injured talisman Ignacio Piatti.

On Saturday, he did something about it.

Dzemaili scored on a brilliant 21st-minute strike from distance and set up Montreal defender Chris Duvall's goal two minutes later with an equally impressive service to send the Impact to a 2-0 win against D.C. United at Stade Saputo on Saturday night.

With the win, Montreal moved out of a tie with D.C. for last place in the Eastern Conference and into eighth place with 21 points, vaulting past New England and Philadelphia, who meet Sunday (5 pm ET | FS1, MLS LIVE in Canada).

"It was important because we were last and I think we don't belong there," Dzemaili said. "We have a much better team. I think that everybody has to do more."

Dzemaili stepped up to move the Impact three points clear of United, helping to fill a gaping hole in Montreal's starting XI after Piatti sustained an adductor muscle injury Tuesday in a 2-1 loss at Toronto in the second leg of the Canadian Championship.

The Swiss midfielder launched a 25-yard strike past D.C. goalkeeper Travis Worra to put the Impact ahead 1-0. The Canada Day crowd of 18,707 was still buzzing from that missile when Dzemaili took a midfield pass from Duvall and returned it to him with a chip into the box, which Duvall put away with a left-footed sliding finish for his first Montreal goal.

"With Nacho out everybody has to take more responsibility," Dzemaili said. "Everybody has to take more the game in the hand and do something more. And I think we did this today, we have to do it also in Houston on Wednesday."

Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush recorded his third clean sheet in the past eight MLS games, beginning with a 1-0 win at D.C. United on May 6. In between, though, he and Montreal conceded seven goals in their previous two games, a 3-3 tie at Orlando City SC on June 17 and a 4-1 loss at Columbus Crew SC on June 24.

"I think it was big for the whole team," said Duvall, who has two goals in 74 MLS regular season games. "We've conceded a lot of goals this season and I think to get a shutout, it shows the work that we've been doing in training and it shows the work we've been doing behind the scenes to kind of shore up our defense.

"We know that D.C. has struggled to score recently and we don't specifically in training say let's go get the shutout, because that's our goal every game. But we have a very conscious effort to keep goals off the board because we know our offense is so good that they'll score."

Impact coach Mauro Biello was also encouraged by his team's defending.

"Defensively we were good," Biello said. "D.C. had a lot of chances but not a lot were on target. We were able to stop a lot of their attacks. Our defensive transition could have been better. But that's understandable when you're tired, when you don't have the legs. But those were three points we needed."