Impact off to Guatemala after 2-1 home victory
Montreal Impact's Sanna Nyassi, right, and D.C. United's James Riley battle for the ball during second half MLS action in Montreal on Saturday, August 17, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
Published Sunday, August 18, 2013 3:47PM EDT
Visitors to Guatemala are usually welcomed to a peaceful stay, admiring the spectacular volcanic mountains, tracing signs of Mayan antiquity and gaping at spectacular ocean sunsets.
But that same hospitality might not be extended to the Montreal Impact players who board the eight hour flight to Central America Monday.
The Impact, fresh off a 2-1 home victory over D.C. United Saturday, might be forced to contend with some hostile partisans of the Heredia Jaguars in CONCACAF Champions League match-up Wednesday at 10 p.m. (Sportsnet, TVA).
The teams are two of 24 squads hoping to win the five-year-old tournament, which began its 2013-14 shedule on August 6.
The Jaguars, a team made up mostly of Guatemalans, will visit Saputo Stadium on September 24 to complete the home-and-home series.
Passionate Central American soccer fans have been known to get under the skin of Canadian soccer visitors as Patrice Bernier can attest.
Bernier was part of the Canadian team that faced ferocious fan disapproval when it lost 8-1 in neighbouring Honduras last year, putting a sudden and definitive end to the country’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup.
On Saturday night Bernier made a masterful pass down the left wing to spring Marco Di Vaio, who nimbly cut back in front of the net to score the winner in a 2-1 victory at Saputo Stadium.
Di Vaio also ended his scoring drought by netting the opening marker in the 43rd minute on a pass from Justin Mapp.
Di Vaio scored his winner just two minutes after the visiting United shocked the Impact by scoring the tying marker on a nifty goal by substitute Conor Doyle in the 81st minute, after a ball eluded Impact defender Allessandro Nesta just outside the box.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for Montreal (11-7-5) as the Impact picked up a crucial three points for just the second time in its last nine matches.
The match became heated in the 75th minute when Mapp and United's James Riley both leaped for the ball along the sidelines and Riley appeared to push Mapp into the TV camera. Unhappy with the situation, Impact head coach Marco Schallibaum and United head coach Ben Olsen got into a heated exchange resulting in ejections for both. Riley was given a yellow card.
"The ball went up on the sideline, I went up with Riley and momentum carried us into the camera and table," Mapp said. "I ended up being okay but things got heated and I think that fired everybody up."
Schallibaum said he was simply sticking up for Mapp.
"I spoke for my player, Justin Mapp, because he fell down into the camera. Because he's my player, I wanted to go see what happened because it's a very dangerous situation," Schallibaum said of his third ejection of the season. "I was out a little bit from my zone."
He added: "I can't say everything that I think (without risking a fine)."
The Impact return to league play on Saturday August 24, when they host the Houston Dynamo at Saputo Stadium.
-With a file from The Canadian Press