MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact’s perfect start to its sophomore MLS season continued Saturday afternoon as it beat visiting rival Toronto FC 2-1 in front of 37,896 at the Olympic Stadium.
Patrice Bernier opened the scoring for the Impact in the 35th minute following a controversial penalty and Marco Di Vaio added to the Impact’s lead just before halftime after a neat through pass from Davy Arnaud.
Toronto managed to pull one back in the second half, with Robert Earnshaw converting from the spot after another controversial penalty was given from referee Baldomero Toledo. TFC pushed for the draw, but the Impact were able to hold on for their third win in three games.
Marco Schällibaum said in the postgame press conference that he was satisfied with the result, but not with his team’s overall performance, as the Impact nearly gave up their two goal advantage in the second half.
“It was our most difficult game. In the first half we were pretty good, we had some good chances. Going up 2-0 helped our morale, but we suffered a lot in the second half. We will have to learn and grow from this. But the important thing for us is that we now have nine points”, Schallibaum said.
Bernier recalled that on many occasions last season, the Impact rarely seemed to be able to win games they didn’t deserve to, and felt that because the team was able to come out with the three points against Toronto, despite not playing at its best, is another sign of the team's positive progress this year.
“We played like the game was over in the second half, and Toronto put in a lot of effort, got their penalty and almost got the draw in the end. But we’re happy with the result, to have nine points. Good teams are able to win games even when they don’t play well for 90 minutes,” Bernier said.
Schällibaum explained that part of the team’s difficulty against Toronto was coming into the game as favorites, which is something the team isn’t used to; but that that would be a new tag they would need to learn to live with quickly as the team is now a perfect 3-0-0 to start the year. But the Swiss native doesn’t feel that complacency will be an issue, given the team’s subdued reaction following the game.
“When I came into the locker room after the game, I saw that the players weren’t happy with the way they played. And that’s a good sign,” Schällibaum said.
Impact veteran Italian defender Alessandro Nesta came off early in the first half with a slight adductor strain, but told the media following the game that he expects to be back for next week’s home game against the New York Red Bulls.