Only two games into the MLS season and the Montreal Impact have already match their road wins record from the previous year.
Hassoun Camara scored on a bicycle kick and the Impact won their second straight on the road, earning a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.
Felipe also scored for the Impact, who won their season opener 1-0 in Seattle last weekend.
For the second consecutive week, Montreal played manager Marco Schallibaum’s compact style nearly to perfection, corralling the Timbers’ vibrant offence. While the visitors ceded the majority of the game’s possession, their defence provided sufficient cover to earn the second away win in as many weeks.
“They had a lot of the ball and they pushed the game similar to Seattle, but I thought defensively, as a group, we were very solid,” said Montreal captain Davy Arnaud. “It’s a good start for us on the road ... Six points is huge, it’s great for us.”
Yet it was Montreal’s attack that impressed early in the game. Twice in the opening eleven minutes the Impact threatened the Portland goal as Felipe barely missed and Marco Di Vaio had his header saved by Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Meanwhile, Portland’s first chance did not come until the 27th minute when Troy Perkins saved a Ryan Johnson shot.
Camara changed the game in the 30th minute when his overhead kick followed Portland’s inability to clear a Montreal free kick. Matteo Ferrari flipped a ball into the box where Camara reacted first, scoring what will likely be among the best in MLS this week.
That a defender scored for the Impact was a just reward for the quality of play at the back, particularly in quelling Portland midfielder Diego Valeri.
“We have a good mix (of players), which is very important,” said Schallibaum. “A key to the game was Patrice Bernier, he’s a very good player. Today (Valeri) was not like last Sunday because he could not get his passes to the forwards. We were better today.”
Portland was aggrieved in the 40th minute when Sanna Nyassi clearly pulled down Timbers right back Ryan Miller in the box, but referee Edvin Jurisevic did not point the penalty spot. Nyassi committed several first half fouls, but the one that could have caused the most damage went uncalled, leaving the score 1-0 at half time.
The home side changed approach in the second half, overloading the left side in the hopes of forcing the Impact to alter the set-up that worked so well in the opening half. Yet Montreal retained its rigid shape and mostly kept the Timbers off balance.
After fifteen minutes of absorbing pressure, Montreal hit back on a counter attack when Felipe slammed home the second goal in the 60th minute. A perfectly weighted through ball from Bernier ran to the end line where newly inserted Andres Romero poked it back into the goalmouth for an onrushing Felipe.
Romero nearly added a third Montreal goal four minutes later when he chipped over Ricketts but Michael Harrington cleared off the line for Portland.
The Timbers got back into the game in the 80th minute when substitute Ben Zemanski’s cutting cross from the right side fell perfectly to Johnson who needed only to poke in from close range to bring the score to 2-1. Yet that was as close as the Timbers could get despite several close chances in the dying moments.
Perkins, playing in Portland for the first time since his trade from the Timbers to Montreal in August 2012, recorded five saves in another strong performance for the Impact.
“He punched things away, he didn’t give up any rebounds and I thought he was very good for us,” said Arnaud. “In tough moments, on routine saves, even at the end there he could give up a rebound but he does well to hold it. He’s important for us and he had a very good game.”