After midweek criticism, Montreal Impact find the best response

MONTREAL – In the aftermath of the Montreal Impact’s 1-0 loss against Heredia in the CONCACAF Champions League, many fans and reporters wondered why the team didn’t bring some of its key elements to Guatemala.

Their response was a 5-0 shellacking of Eastern Conference rivals Houston Dynamo.

“Maybe we should get criticized more often – last time around, we won 6-0 [against Toronto FC in the Amway Canadian Championship], so it seems to be a good method,” midfielder Patrice Bernier quipped, referring to the backlash to the first leg of that tie, before continuing more seriously.

“The fresher players showed that they were fresh indeed. We had to respond, and we did today. But it’s only one game.”

Still, what a game it was. Montreal’s win on Saturday night was assistant Mauro Biello’s first MLS win as a fill-in boss – head coach Marco Schällibaum is now halfway through a two-game suspension – and the three points delighted him for reasons beyond the personal milestone and the remarkable score.

The Dynamo came into Montreal tied with the New England Revolution for fewest goals allowed in MLS, with 23, and had a 4-1-1 record in their last six games, which made the win all the sweeter. Biello called Houston a “well-coached team” which “seems to always peak at the right moments”, as two MLS Cup appearances in two years indicate.

“We hadn’t played that well of late,” Biello said. “The win against D.C. [on August 17] wasn’t really our best game. But tonight, we showed what a quality team we can be. It’s important for our confidence moving toward a playoff spot.”

What both these games did have in common is a brace for Marco Di Vaio. The Italian scored his team’s first and fourth on Saturday, propelling himself back to the top of the scoring charts in MLS.

Yet what pleased Di Vaio was that Montreal played 90 good minutes, as he sensed that there were games this season where his teammates and he were behind both physically and mentally.

“Tonight, we did a really great match,” Di Vaio said. “We were focused throughout. We know we can play like that, and we have to try and play like that every game, because we know how good a team we are.