The Impact managed to weather the storm in Seattle on Saturday night and come away with a victory, a feat which would have been extremely unlikely last season.
SEATTLE – Courtesy of a brilliant first half chip goal from captain Davy Arnaud, the Montreal Impact got their season off to a flyer Saturday night with an impressive 1-0 win against the Seattle Sounders. Impact coach Marco Schällibaum praised his players’ performance following the game, highlighting the team’s mental toughness as a crucial factor in managing to snatch three points in front of a boisterous packed house at Century Link field.
“They believed until the end. I told the players that they needed to be [mentally] strong because this was a good team that we played and with 40,000 fans behind them,” Schällibaum told assembled reporters in French.
“We suffered in certain moments, but we could have also made it 2-0. I tip my hat to the guys. It was a win that will bring us confidence”.
Schallibaum acknowledged that the Impact were lucky not to concede in the second half as the Sounders struck the woodwork on two occasions. But he was happy with the chances his own team created for itself and that it ultimately got the win on a tough ground.
“After going up 1-0 we knew that they would go all out to try and get back in the game. But we did well, we had two or three lucky breaks, but we too were unlucky not have been able to add to our lead. We got the three points here and not many teams will be able to do the same," Schallibaum said.
Last season, the Impact’s principle Achilles heel was its woeful road performance, as it only managed to win a grand total of two games away from home. The win in Seattle is perhaps a sign that the Impact are learning from their past mistakes. As Patrice Bernier explained, the Impact were flawless in areas in which they generally had lots of trouble last year, like staying composed under pressure and defending set pieces.
“We were impeccable today defensively. They put a lot of pressure on us, but we stopped them well and we were very solid mentally. It’s only the beginning, but, contrary to last year where we would give up goals late in games and lose, tonight in our first game we kept things together and managed to win what was a difficult match,” Bernier said.
The Impact will remain on the West Coast as they prepare to take on the Portland Timbers next Saturday, but Schällibaum won’t be thinking about that game just yet as he tries to cherish his first win as Impact boss while he can.
“For now, we’re going to try and savor this victory,” Schällibaum concluded. “After all, that’s what we train for every day.”