MONTREAL—The Vancouver Whitecaps kept their MLS playoff hopes alive with a gutsy 3–0 win over the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo on Saturday.
Kenny Miller and Camilo, with a very late brace, sealed the deal in a solid performance by the visitors.
Montreal lost its third match in a row (in all competitions) and were not at their best, although they did create numerous chances late in the second half.
Vancouver’s defense, marshaled by Jay DeMerit, held strong and keeper David Ousted was very sharp, making a number of fearless saves under pressure.
With the win, Vancouver moved up to 41 points, but is still on the outside looking in as far as MLS playoffs are concerned. The Impact are still well-positioned in the Eastern Conference having played fewer games than their rivals, although a swoon at time of the season is very concerning.
“Tremendous team effort,” said Vancouver striker Tommy Heinemann who got a rare start ahead of Camilo. “Camilo gave us two goals to get us back in contention.”
“We definitely needed these three points,” said Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit. “When everyone does their job, the right results happen.”
“We were not so good in the first half,” Impact coach Marco Schallibaum said.
Match in Review
Vancouver’s Scottish striker Kenny Miller, opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the seventh minute. Montreal full back Hassoun Camara was guilty of a clear handball as he was off-balance when the ball struck his outstretched hand.
The Impact didn’t get anything going until after the first 20 minutes. Shortly thereafter, Impact winger Justin Mapp began to find his feet and created a couple of good chances that Felipe Martins was unable to convert.
Controversy sparked in the 37th minute when Patrice Bernier’s shot was blocked near the right Vancouver goalpost by Jun Marques Davidson. Referee Jorge Gonzalez initially awarded the Impact a penalty kick much to the dismay of numerous Whitecaps players who surrounded the referee.
The referee then walked toward the near sideline. After consultation with the fourth official, he changed his mind on the penalty call much to the fury of the Impact fans, players, and the fiery Schallibaum.
The ball was shown to have hit the shoulder of Davidson, so ultimately, the correct call was made.
“It’s a scandal,” said Schallibaum in his press conference. “It’s not acceptable.” The Impact coach was very animated about the decision to reverse the penalty call.
“At 1–1, it can change a lot of things,” Schallibaum said, assuming a penalty had been awarded and converted.
Naturally, the Whitecaps viewed things differently.
“If it’s the right call, it’s the right call,” DeMerit said.
MLS officials said after the game that, “there was not an intentional handling of the ball,” and that the ball struck the chest/shoulder area of Davidson.
Nevertheless, Vancouver was the better side in the first half and deserved their one-goal lead.
The Impact appeared tired mentally and lacking concentration as the second half began. Nigel Reo-Coker easily dribbled in to the top of the 18-yard box and rang a shot off the crossbar. Troy Perkins in the Impact goal had no chance.
A couple of giveaways then nearly cost Montreal dearly as Perkins’ clearance/pass went straight to Matt Watson whose shot went back to the Montreal keeper.
The Brazilian Martins continued to be Montreal’s most dangerous player. His bicycle kick in the 54th minute hit the crossbar after some creative play from Mapp to set him up.
Bernier then rung another Impact shot off the crossbar in the 65th minute as the Impact dialed up the pressure.
But Ousted was having a strong game and really began showing why he has been chosen over Brad Knighton.
Camilo’s two goals, in the 89th and 90th minutes, came after a prolonged period of Impact pressure and made the final score not reflective of the how it all went down at Stade Saputo.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” said Mapp. “The 3–0 scoreline is misleading.”
Montreal keeper Perkins called it an “ugly game all around” for his team. The road win was only Vancouver’s third of the season.
“It’s a platform to go to the next week,” DeMerit said. Next Saturday, the Whitecaps host Real Salt Lake.
Vancouver’s last win came Aug. 10 at home to San Jose. Since then, they’ve lost three and tied two coming into the match against Montreal.
Heavy rains in the morning made way for perfect conditions at game time. With a cloudy sky and temperature of 23C (73F), the teams couldn’t have it much better.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports