MONTREAL – With the Montreal Impact and D.C. United in close proximity in the MLS standings and both fighting for a place in the playoffs, it was supposed to be a high-tempo and bellicose encounter when the two teams met Saturday afternoon at Saputo Stadium. In the scorching heat, however, the game didn’t live up to its billing.
Defender Matteo Ferrari voiced his disapproval with the game having been played in the afternoon instead of in the cooler evening hours, which would have made for a more rhythmic and entertaining game.
“We played a good game, despite the impossible heat,” Ferrari told Goal.com following the game. “I’m sorry for the fans, I still think they had a good time - three goals are still three goals - but playing in these temperatures is ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense."
D.C.’s very heavy schedule made matters worse for the away side, as the team looked visibly fatigued as the game wore on and even had to sideline its two top players – Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius – from the start. With defender Alessandro Nesta returning to the lineup, the Impact had no trouble keeping D.C.’s attackers at bay and they went on to win 3-0.
“We knew that they were tired because they also played Wednesday,” said Ferrari. “And when we saw their formation and their lineup, especially up front, we knew that their intention was to tire us out for an hour and then put in their guys that could make a difference, like De Rosario and Pontius, but the team handled things well."
Impact head coach Jesse Marsch was sympathetic towards D.C. in the post-game conference, as the Impact endured the same plight during the time they lost to D.C. 3-0 on the road in July.
“We knew that they were going to have very heavy legs and their strategy I think was to try and put a team on the field that could hang in there for 45 or 60 minutes and then put their big guns on and see if they could steal a result. It’s not that different then when we went there [to D.C.] and some of our strategy [was] to try and get a result there when it was a desperate time for us physically in the season,” Marsch explained.
“Everyone was so critical of that 3-0 loss we had there, but in these moments when you’re on the road and you’re playing a lot of games and it’s hot, it’s tough. It’s tough on your team and I give D.C. a lot of credit because they put everything they had into that match, similar to what we did when we were there. But in the end, legs can sometimes catch up with you."
Montreal’s next two games are on the road to Columbus and Chicago, which will be fundamental for the Impact’s playoff pursuit and surely the climate won’t be any cooler.