MONTREAL—Marco Di Vaio scored his first goal in Major League Soccer for the Montreal Impact in a convincing 3–1 victory over the New York Red Bulls at Saputo Stadium on Saturday, while Alessandro Nesta had a solid performance in his MLS debut.
After a scoreless first half, the Impact took control of the match that coach Jesse Marsch agreed was their best of the season.
“The way that we controlled the game, we didn’t give up much. We made it hard on [Thierry] Henry,” Marsch said.
Brazilian midfielder Felipe Martins was chosen as the player of the game with assists on all three Impact goals.
“He gives you everything he’s got,” Marsch said about Felipe. “He’s meant the world to our team this year.”
It was truly a night to remember for the Impact as they defeated the MLS Eastern Conference leaders. Montreal had lost their two meetings with New York this year—in New York 5–2 on Mar. 31 and 2–1 at Olympic Stadium on May 19.
With the introduction of Nesta into the lineup and Di Vaio getting the proverbial monkey off his back (first goal coming in his eighth game), the outlook is very bright.
“There’s been positive momentum within the team [despite some earlier poor results],” said Marsch.
The match began at a quick pace with Montreal’s Italian designated player Di Vaio very active in trying to get his first MLS goal. Di Vaio’s best early chance was a curling shot to the far corner that New York keeper Bill Gaudette dove and punched away.
The visiting Red Bulls gradually started to establish more possession in the Impact half but Nesta and company stood strong marking New York’s Henry, Kenny Cooper, and Sebastian Le Toux.
Impact keeper Donovan Ricketts put forth a credible performance as well. He made a great reaction save in the 34th minute to rob Cooper’s turnaround flick shot after a New York corner kick.
The Impact were caught offside five times in the first half with Di Vaio being the principal offender, but his drive to score was sharper than ever tonight.
Second Half Outburst
The Impact couldn’t have had a better start to the second half scoring twice in two minutes. In the 48th minute, Di Vaio got his first MLS goal. The Italian who played with a number of teams in Serie A finished a nice move initiated by Felipe.
Felipe found Mapp, who could’ve shot, but passed instead to Di Vaio. Di Vaio hit a well-placed left-footer into the far corner of Gaudette’s goal.
“I’m happy for him,” Marsch said about Di Vaio. “He’s committed himself in a really good way. Big relief for Marco.”
Impact captain Davy Arnaud then managed to stay onside and received a pass from Felipe. He went in one-on-one with Gaudette and shot hard enough such that the New York keeper’s arm couldn’t prevent the ball from going in.
“It was a really good ball by Felipe,” Arnaud said. “Their back line was pretty high all night. I knew I wasn’t offside.”
The first sell-out crowd at Saputo Stadium of 19,441 was thoroughly enjoying the proceedings at this stage.
Henry did managed to get New York within one goal when he received a cross from Joel Lindpere, and with Ricketts out of the net, volleyed a right-footer home in the 57th minute.
The ill-feelings between the two teams then picked up after referee Abiodun Okulaja, who probably had a night to forget, didn’t call a penalty when Di Vaio was knocked down in the box. The action took place right in front of the Impact’s hardcore ultra supporters who proceeded to throw bottles onto the pitch.
A fracas then took place between Di Vaio and New York full back Roy Miller. Both players were cautioned and Miller would be booed every time he would touch the ball thereafter.
But the Impact remained resilient and with the introduction of substitute Sanna Nyassi, put the game out of New York’s reach.
New York’s defense certainly had a night to forget as Nyassi worked his way into the penalty area and got around Gaudette to poke home the third Impact goal.
Nesta had a difficult task in his first MLS match taking on Henry, but he did extremely well. The Impact defense stymied Cooper and Le Toux completely.
“He’s a real guy,” Marsch said about Nesta. “He’s a smart guy. For his whole career, he’s made players around him better.” The Impact defense looked very comfortable against New York with Hassoun Camara, Nelson Rivas, and Jeb Brovsky all having very good games.
“I’m happy. New York is very good, very good strikers,” Nesta said briefly in English.
Montreal welcomes the Philadelphia Union to Saputo Stadium next Saturday as their push to make the MLS playoffs continues. Meanwhile, for New York, it was a match to forget, but they are still well-positioned in the battle for MLS Eastern Conference supremacy.
The Italian flavor of the Montreal Impact is growing stronger and their potential with an in-form Nesta and Di Vaio has increased exponentially.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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