Impact retake first with 5-0 beat-down over Houston
Montreal Impact's Marco Di Vaio, left, and Houston Dynamo's Eric Brunner battle for the ball during second half MLS soccer action in Montreal, Saturday, August 24, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Published Sunday, August 25, 2013 11:48AM EDT
MONTREAL - After an electrifying victory by the football Alouettes two nights earlier, the Montreal Impact chose not to be upstaged in its battle for the hearts of Montreal’s summertime sports fans by retaking first place in a lopsided 5-0 victory over the visiting Houston Dynamo Saturday night.
The Impact came out of the gate ferociously, as Justin Mapp came close to scoring on a handful of occasions on the Dynamo, who boasted the league’s best defensive numbers coming into the game.
The Impact broke the ice on a goal from Marco Di Vaio, who scored twice to re-take the league goal-scoring lead with 15 markers.
Di Vaio popped a hard shot home after a nifty pass from Justin Mapp in the 35th minute.
Mapp duplicated his magic two minutes later, lofting a masterful pass to Felipe Martins, who used a defender as a screen and then flicked a low shot past helpless Houston 'keeper Tally Hall.
Felipe put on a lengthy Brazillian-style samba celebration after bending his shot low on the keeper's left side to score his fifth of the season.
Jeb Brovsky made it 3-0 in the 58th minute and Di Vaio finished off a two-man break on a pass from Patrice Bernier for his fourth goal in two games. Bernier, serving as captain, generously passed the ball to Di Vaio, even though he also had a chance to score on his own.
Andrea Pisano added his first Major League Soccer goal on a pass which Houston protested was off-side.
The Impact won its second in a row, and its third straight at Saputo Stadium, to the delight of the sold-out crowd of 20,801.
"The facts speak for us," Felipe said. "When we play like that we can do good things."
Troy Perkins made a diving save on a header two minutes into the second half on his way to posting a clean sheet.
Houston lost for just the second time in its last seven MLS games (4-2-1).
"There was a great opportunity for us before the game and we didn't play well," Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall said. "We didn't play well enough to get a draw, not even close enough to get a win, and when you don't have a very good performance on the field against a team of Montreal's calibre you're going to get a lot of goals scored on you."
Brovsky saluted Hernan Bernardello's masterful corner-kick for allowing him to net his second goal of the season. Dynamo captain Brad Davis headed the kick but it went to Brovsky who put it home from the right post.
"He's a set-piece master," Brovsky said of Bernardello. "He whips them in pretty well and he put some good pace on it and that's why that far post run is there. If it gets through, you have to be there. That's my job and fortunately I was there."
Impact assistant coach Mauro Biello guided the team in place of head coach Marco Schallibaum, who served the first game of his two-game league suspension.
"This was a big game," Biello said. "Houston was right behind us. They're a good team, a well-coached team. They're there every year. They've been to the finals the last two seasons.
"They seem to always peak at the right moment so we were getting them at a moment where they were 4-1-1 in their last six so it was important. The guys were ready. They knew what was going to be in front of them and they reacted very well."
Schallibaum, who has been suspended four times this season, received an automatic one-game suspension for his ejection from last Saturday's 2-1 win over D.C. United.
The fiery Swiss coach was suspended by MLS commissioner Don Garber for one more game and fined US$5,000 Friday "for his repeated misbehaviour" so he will also miss Montreal's game next Saturday in Philadelphia.
The Impact improved to 12-7-5 for 41 points in 24 games, matching their win total from last season in their MLS debut. Montreal extended its home winning streak to three, and is undefeated in their last five games (3-0-2) at Saputo Stadium.
-With a file from The Canadian Press