KANSAS CITY, Kan. – You’re not bettering our streak, said Sporting Kansas City.
After four consecutive wins, the Montreal Impact will indeed not better Sporting KC’s seven-game winning streak to open 2012. In the 2-0 loss, Marco Schällibaum’s side were quickly given an uphill struggle and could not recover from Claudio Bieler’s fifth-minute strike, which had them trailing for the first time in 2013.
Unable to withstand Kansas City’s high pressure – “They swamped everyone,” said team captain Davy Arnaud – Montreal committed numerous mistakes that, by their lofty early 2013 standards, were uncharacteristic. Led by a dazzling Graham Zusi, the Impact’s foes wreaked havoc in the visiting defense with nearly every spell of possession. Montreal’s possession, on the other hand, could best be described as sterile.
“We tried to play, and we weren’t bad, but what was lacking was our play in the last 20 meters,” Schällibaum – who was ejected from the game in the second half – told reporters after the game. “We didn't make our way into the box, and maybe if we put that first goal in it would have been different.”
Even with the goal advantage, Sporting KC wouldn’t give the Impact opportunities on the counterattack. Those that did come were explicably few and far between, and they still couldn’t help their fortunes.
“It just wouldn’t work tonight,” Schällibaum acknowledged. “We didn’t get many chances, two or three, four at most. That’s football, but we have to be proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.”
And that, maybe, was a deciding factor in the game. Montreal came to Sporting Park undefeated, against an underachieving Kansas City team. It was expected that Peter Vermes’ side would be hungry. They were downright ravenous.
“Last year, we came here with a team that no one expected to win,” midfielder Patrice Bernier told reporters. “We defended, we played with intent and scored two goals on maybe three opportunities. Tonight, they wanted it more than us.”
Added Schällibaum: “We have to recognize it: They deserved to win.”