The Montreal Impact gained an important three points and perhaps some bragging rights with their 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution on Wednesday night.
The win on a 68th minute goal from Sanna Nyassi was their seventh this season, one more than Toronto FC had as an expansion team in 2007 and the Vancouver Whitecaps got in their first Major League Soccer campaign in 2011.
But it’s not an achievement to crow about for the Impact (7-12-3), who are convinced their record would be even better had they not let points slip away with sloppy defensive play this season.
”We don’t use the E-word,” coach Jesse Marsch said of his expansion squad. ”I think there’s disappointment overall at the results because, within the group, there’s a feeling that we’re a good team.”
Patrice Bernier opened the scoring on a 28th minute penalty kick for Montreal (7-12-3) and Lee Nguyen stunned the crowd of 15,615 at Saputo Stadium with the equalizer for New England one minute before the intermission.
”Surprisingly, even though it was the last minute before half time, no one was feeling sorry for themselves or saying ‘here we go again,’ ” said captain Davy Arnaud. ”We were confident in what we were going to do in the second half.
”We got the goal and held onto it.”
The Impact leapfrogged New England (6-9-4) into sixth place in the standings, although the Revolution hold three games in hand. Montreal can gain more ground Saturday when they travel to fifth-place Houston.
”We obviously are an expansion team but from day one we’ve said we don’t want that to be what we’re about or to use that as any kind of excuse,” added Arnaud, who lauded his club’s defensive effort. ”We expect more from ourselves.”
New England, coming off a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC, has never won a game in Canada, going 0-1 in Vancouver and 0-2-4 in Toronto.
”It’s not a mental block, it’s how the cards play out sometimes,” said New England defender Darius Barnes. ”We get to come back here later in the season and it’s not something we think about.”
The Impact, now 6-3-2 at home, won for only the second time in their last six games, thanks to Nyassi’s strike.
As play carried on after a free kick, Justin Mapp crossed the ball to the far post where Nyassi volleyed inside the near post for the game-winner. It was his third of the season.
The Impact got the early lead on Bernier’s penalty kick when Nyassi went down in the area after a light shove from Chris Tierney. Referee Fotis Bazakos made Bernier take the kick three times due to irregularlities. The Brossard, Que. native scored each time.
”I just think of putting the ball in the back of the net, not the reasons why it was put back,” said Bernier after his six goal of the season and fourth from the penalty spot. ”You start to think too much you might change the way you shoot.”
New England equalized in the 44th minute on a wild goal, as Nguyen’s long blast beat goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, bounced off the crossbar and went in off Rickett’s foot.
It was originally ruled an own goal, but later the former Whitecap was credited with his fourth of the season.
It was another frustrating match for the Impact’s first designated player Marco Di Vaio, who has yet to score in six MLS games. He played a strong match, and Marsch called it his best defensive game to date, but didn’t get the ball when he was open.
Nyassi was back from serving a one-game suspension for yellow cards. His brother, Sainey Nyassi, started on the New England bench and went in as a substitute in the 79th minute for his first action of the season.
It was the first time the Gambian brothers faced each other in MLS.
”It feels great playing against my brother, especially tonight when we get the victory,” said Sanna Nyassi. ”We’ve been looking forward to this. We hope to start together when we go to New England (on Aug. 11).
New England started a three-game road trip that takes them to Kansas City on Saturday.
Notes — Montreal has seven penalty kick goals this season, four by Bernier and three by Bernardo Corradi, who is out for the season with a knee injury. . . . . . Recent signing Dennis Iapichino made his Impact debut at left back and played 70 minutes. . . Marsch said new signing Alessandro Nesta will make the trip to Houston on Saturday but is not likely to see any action.
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