The Montreal Impact surged into first place in MLS’s Eastern Conference with a come-from-behind 2–1 away win over Sporting Kansas City after their Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps set the example against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
Both Montreal and Vancouver were coming off a thriller at B.C. Place last Wednesday night in which the Impact equalized in the 84th minute to earn a 2–2 draw and the Voyageurs Cup as Canadian champions for the first time since 2008.
The busy MLS schedule continued for both clubs with Montreal in a dogfight at the top of the Eastern Conference with New York, Kansas City, and Houston. Vancouver had to prove itself on the road as it risked losing touch with the top five teams in the West.
Montreal overcame a dubious penalty call that led to an SKC goal at the end of the first half, a red card to Alessandro Nesta in the 74th minute, and the expulsion of their coach Marco Schallibaum during the halftime break. The team has developed a never-say-die attitude recently with some resilient second half performances.
SKC striker Claudio Bieler was a thorn in Montreal’s side all match. The Argentine designated player first got under Nesta’s skin late in the first half. Bieler appeared to be pulled down by Nesta at the top of the 18-yard box.
Somehow between referee Armando Villarreal and his assistant a penalty was called when it looked like the foul took place outside the box.
Bieler slotted home the penalty and SKC had a surprising 1–0 lead at halftime. But without Schallibaum on the bench, the Impact quickly got back on level terms.
Sanna Nyassi’s seeing-eye shot beat Jimmy Nielsen in the 47th minute and Collen Warner benefited from some uncharacteristic bumbling in the Kansas City box as the loose ball was not cleared. Warner was able to fire the ball home and the Impact had turned the match on its head.
Nesta and Matteo Ferrari were doing a fine job at the heart of the Impact defense but a moment of madness made life much harder than it needed to be. Nesta reacted to a slight kick from Bieler in a Zidane-on-Materazzi-World-Cup-2006 attempted head butt and was immediately sent off.
Montreal avenged its earlier loss in Kansas City, but Schallibaum has now been sent off in both trips to Kansas City. A simmering rivalry is developing between the two Eastern Conference powerhouses.
Montreal managed to survive the SKC onslaught to move to an 8–2–2 record and a one-point advantage over New York. They still have four games in hand on the Red Bulls.
Montreal can now look forward to a long break before their next match—away to Columbus on June 15.
First Road Win
Not letting the Amway Canadian Championship loss on away goals get them down, the Vancouver Whitecaps responded with a 2–1 come-from-behind win after a weak first half against high-flying New York.
New York was unbeaten in seven games, while Vancouver had not won on the road all season.
Probably feeling fortunate to not be down after the first half, the misfortune struck early in the second half when right fullback Greg Klazura netted an own goal. He then left with an injury and on came Y.P. Lee.
Much like in the case of Montreal’s go-ahead goal, New York was guilty of not clearing a loose ball in their box. Eric Alexander’s poor clearance sat nicely for Vancouver’s Jordan Harvey and he nicely rocketed a left footer high past Luis Robles.
Vancouver then benefited from a second yellow card to New York’s central defender Jamison Olave for a slew-foot takedown of Kenny Miller. The visitors began attacking more fervently than what they showed in the first half.
Canadian Russell Teibert’s good play continued as the lively winger found Scottish designated player Kenny Miller for a headed goal to give Vancouver the lead.
The Whitecaps could have easily made it 3–1 on a couple of occasions, but Kekuta Manneh and Tiebert were both unable to properly chip Robles.
It was a much-needed road victory for Vancouver and it came at an unlikely time and environment in the heat and humidity of New York.
Same Old Toronto FC
Toronto FC conceded another injury time goal, which masked an otherwise very positive performance against a lackluster Philadelphia Union at BMO Field on Saturday.
Playing down to 10-men after Doneil Henry took two yellow cards in the first half, the Reds took a deserved 1–0 lead as Brampton, Ontario native Jonathan Osorio scored on a diving header from a good cross by Jeremy Brockie.
But Toronto has built an unwanted reputation for conceding late goals. They’ve allowed eight in the final 15 minutes of games this year, and a league-high five in stoppage time.
MLS leading scorer Jack McInerney scored Philadelphia’s equalizer in second half injury time with a low drive in at the far post. McInerney had been effectively neutralized by TFC until they left him with too much space in the 18-yard box as time wound down.
Toronto FC’s designated player Danny Koevermans made a brief appearance after his length battle to recover from knee surgery.
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