MONTREAL – There's no stopping the Montreal Impact these days.
The 2012 expansion side won their fifth straight league match and moved to within a point of D.C. United for the fifth and final playoff spot in the East with a 3-0 victory over United in front of a sell-out crowd on a hot Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo.
Designated Player Marco Di Vaio netted his third goal of the season on a classy finish and captain Patrice Bernier netted a brace after the break to secure the victory over a D.C. team which decided to rest reigning league MVP Dwayne De Rosario and leading scorer Chris Pontius during the first half.
Although D.C. United (40 points from 25 matches) have three games in hand on Montreal, the Impact are now breathing down their neck with 39 points from 28 games.
Di Vaio registered the breakthrough in the 24th minute on his fouth attempt at beating the DC offside trap. He timed his run perfectly to latch onto Bernier’s through pass, before curling it into the top right corner of goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s net.
It was a harsh turn of events for the visitors who started strong and set the pace early on with pressure applied by midfielder Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa. But they could not trouble Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
Montreal doubled their lead soon after the break, when DC defender Emiliano Dudar was adjudged to have fouled Impact midfielder Collen Warner with a shoulder charge in the penalty box. Bernier’s sixth conversion of the season kept Montreal’s record from the spot intact, as they are a perfect nine-for-nine from the spot.
DC manager Ben Olsen then called to his bench, making three subs in quick succession to bring on Branko Boskovic, Pontius and De Rosario. Keeping the ball became more of a struggle for Montreal as United piled on the pressure.
The match could have been in for an interesting finish, but Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins made an impressive save on Saragosa in the 78th minute. Then Bernier put on a deadly dribble move to beat defender Brandon McDonald in the box before finishing with the help of a deflection for the 3-0 final.
Montreal will hit the road next Saturday as they face the Columbus Crew in Ohio. D.C. United, for their part, will get only three days’ rest before they host the New York Red Bulls at RFK Stadium on Wednesday.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Felipe Martins||A threat all over the field, serving delightful balls into the attack and also getting on the end of his share of scoring chances.|
|2||Marco Di Vaio||Made series of great runs in behind DC defense. Class was on show on first-half opener. Could have added a second after the break.|
|3||Patrice Bernier||Impact captain registers two goals and an assist on Di Vaio's opener which set the tone for rest of the match|