MONTREAL – This one had been declared a Jack McInerney-Marco Di Vaio showdown. It turned into a downright goalfest.
The current Golden Boot frontrunners combined for four goals in the first half at Stade Saputo on Saturday night, but it was Di Vaio’s Montreal Impact that came out 5-3 victors against the Philadelphia Union.
The Italian forward scored a 30-minute hat trick in response to McInerney’s early equalizer, thus putting both strikers on equal footing atop the MLS scoring ranking, with nine goals. Antoine Hoppenot, Andrew Wenger, Sébastien Le Toux and Blake Smith scored the other goals in the second half.
With the win, Montreal jumped two spots to reach second place in the East on 23 points. Philadelphia still sit fifth with 18.
An enthralling first five minutes saw Di Vaio and McInerney play a bit of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better. The Impact No. 9 opened the scoring two minutes in after Wenger cut the ball back for Di Vaio, who put it past Zac MacMath first-time with his left foot.
But three minutes later, McInerney equalized when Jeb Brovsky only half-cleared a Sheanon Williams cross. It fell for Michael Farfan, who found McInerney unmarked for the equalizer.
It stayed level until the 28th minute. On a typically quick transition, Justin Mapp cut inside from the right and lobbed a through ball for Di Vaio, who adroitly lifted his finish past the ‘keeper.
DI Vaio got his hat trick four minutes later thanks to some shrewd one-on-one work from Andres Romero on the Impact’s left side. The Argentine midfielder waited for Sheanon Williams to slip on the damp Stade Saputo grass to cross for Di Vaio, who coolly sidefooted the ball in.
Brought on for Kleberson in the 65th minute, Hoppenot had an immediate, if bizarre, impact. The young forward dribbled his way past Blake Smith on the right and hit a cross that turned into a potentially huge second goal for the Union.
But as is their custom, Montreal thrived on space left by hopeful opponents. Wenger was denied on the goal line by Amobi Okugo in the 74th minute, but on the ensuing corner, the Impact’s first-ever draft pick redirected Felipe’s corner past MacMath.
Seconds after Di Vaio was substituted off for a standing ovation, the Union got a third as Le Toux, creeping on the edge of the box, unleashed a left-footed attempt that went through a maze of legs and past a diving Perkins. Smith then added the final marker on a stoppage time breakaway, his first MLS goal, in stoppage time.
Midweek action awaits both teams, as Philadelphia welcome Ocean City next Tuesday in the US Open Cup while Montreal travel to Vancouver for the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final. The Impact’s and the Union’s next MLS outings come June 1st, when they visit Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC respectively.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Marco Di Vaio||His movement off the ball is a clinic every single week. His finishing continues to be as well. When the midfield plays like this behind him, he's basically guaranteed a goal.|
|2||Justin Mapp||Obviously took his inspiration from Arjen Robben's performance in the Champions League. Mapp was dynamic going forward, controlled the tempo and helped in defense.|
|3||Andrew Wenger||His willingness to do the donkey work in attack and when tracking back has freed up Di Vaio and made the 4-4-2 a real option for the Impact. Goals and assists are a bonus.|