It wasn’t pretty or convincing, but it was a win and the Montreal Impact will take it.
Felipe Martins scored in the 15th minute and the Impact held on for a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on a rainy Saturday afternoon for their first win of the Major League Soccer season.
It was the Impact’s (1-4-3) first victory in 10 league games since a 2-1 triumph over Philadelphia on Oct. 19 last season and their first clean sheet since a 5-0 thumping of Houston last Aug. 24.
“We did a great job of fighting for every ball,” said Felipe, who got his team-leading second goal of the season. “But the most important thing was the three points.
“We waited for this a long time and it’s very nice to be back with a win.”
The Union (1-3-5) are winless in their last seven games and haven’t scored in their last two.
It was Montreal’s first home game on the grass field at Saputo Stadium — after playing three times indoors at Olympic Stadium — but the stands were only half full in chilly, wet weather, although attendance was listed at 19,075.
Felipe scored when Patrice Bernier stole the ball from Sheanon Williams and took a long shot that Zac MacMath blocked, only to fall to the Brazilian who banged in the rebound.
The Impact and goalkeeper Troy Perkins spent the next 75 minutes holding off the Union, who outshot them 17-7 and wasted some glittering chances.
“We have to grow and improve because we didn’t play a good game for 90 minutes,” said centreback Matteo Ferrari. “Some parts were good.
“But it was very important to get the three points. For us, it wasn’t a moment to play well but it was a moment to get points.”
It was the first meeting between the teams since the Impact sent Andrew Wenger to the Union for Jack McInerney in a swap of strikers three weeks ago.
Wenger was dangerous all afternoon, taking four shots, including two on goal.
He missed the net by a long margin in the 22nd minute, but five minutes later forced Perkins to stretch out a hand to save a shot from the edge of the penalty area.
“The whole team’s been dangerous lately but we haven’t been able to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Wenger, who has one goal in four games since the trade. “That’s what’s frustrating.
“We knew they were dangerous on counterattack, like they were today, but we had the better of the play going forward. We couldn’t translate that into goals and that’s something me and some other guys have to figure out.”
McInerney had a glittering chance in the 54th, but MacMath dove to get a hand on the shot.
The striker known as Jack Mac said it was fun to play his former teammates.
“Whenever I’d walk by someone there would always be a little comment made, but at the end, it was business,” he said. “Every tackle had a little something extra in it.”
It was also a first Impact win for former Chicago Fire coach Frank Klopas, who replaced the fired Marco Schallibaum in December.
There had been grumbling among fans and the media that Klopas and sporting director Nick De Santis should be let go if the team’s record winless run to start a season continued, although De Santis met with the media during the week to give his third coach in as many MLS seasons a vote of confidence.
The discontent showed when their staunchest supporters who cluster behind the west goal held up banners that read: “3 years, 3 coaches, 1 De Santis.”
“It felt really good,” Klopas said of the win. “Some games are not going to be pretty soccer and you have to find ways to compete.
“It gives us confidence. You can do things in training, but it’s important to get results. You have more enthusiasm.”
The Impact would probably wish to play again as soon as possible, but they are entering a bye week and don’t play again until May 7 when they face either Ottawa or Edmonton in a Voyageurs Cup semifinal.
Their next league game is at home May 10 against Kansas City.
The Impact are 4-1-2 against Philadelphia in two-plus seasons in MLS, including 4-0-0 in Montreal.
Fullback Hassoun Camara was shown the yellow card for clotheslining Fabinho in the 37th minute. It was his fifth caution of the season and he will be suspended for Montreal’s next MLS game.
The Union play next week at Seattle.
Notes: Fullbacks Camara and Jeb Brovsky were back in the starting 11 for Montreal as Eric Miller and Maxim Tissot saw action as substitutes. Calum Mallace, who started last week, was back on the bench as McInerney started. . . Conor Casey and Crisitian Maidana were on the bench for Philadelphia while Fabinho started.