MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact came from behind to beat the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 19,441 at Saputo Stadium. The win is the Impact’s only second comeback victory of the season and the three points were especially vital with the Impact trying to remain in the playoff race.
In the 21st minute, Hassoun Camara and Steven Lenhart were sent off and the Impact were subsequently given a controversial penalty, one that Chris Wondolowski would convert to give the Quakes the lead.
But the Impact didn’t let the frustration of the penalty get the better of them, as has happened on several occasions this season following controversial calls, and Marco Di Vaio, who was named player of the game, equalized two minutes later.
Head coach Jesse Marsch was thrilled with his team’s courageous response.
“I’m still not exactly sure what happened with the double red,” Marsch said in the postgame press conference. “We could have hung our heads and then felt sorry for ourselves and there’s been different moments in the season when we didn’t respond the right way and tonight, man, they didn’t back down. The response was immediate.
“There’s a real belief right now in the group and it’s almost my job to stay out of the way because these guys are strong, and they’re committed and they believe in each other.”
Di Vaio sealed the deal for the Impact in the 72nd minute when he won a penalty shot after being taken down by Jason Hernandez, who was ejected from the match as a result. And the 'Quakes would have to play the last stretch of the match with nine men.
Marsch was particularly pleased with Di Vaio’s performance.
“He needed to do some dirty work, and he did that. He needed to be smart with his movement and he did that. He was dangerous, when he had footraces he was winning those and so it was a pretty complete performance. I think he’s in a good place right now,” Marsch explained.
The former Bologna striker still has his head wrapped around the Italian betting scandals, where he’s being accused of failing to report a match fixing attempt. He was acquitted of the charges last week, but an appeal has been made and the result of the appeal will be known next week.
But for now, Di Vaio said he’s hoping for the best and just trying to focus on performing well. The designated player admitted that its taken a bit of time to find the right rhythm and chemistry with his teammates, and that he slowly starting to get to his best. Having perhaps his best game in front of his wife and kids, who were watching him play in Montreal for the first time, was especially gratifying.
“We’re starting to click,” Di Vaio told Goal.com. “We’re starting to find good spots where we can connect and we’re finding better solutions to get to goal. It was also the first time my wife and kids came to the stadium and so it was great to play well. I dedicate the performance to them.”
The Impact are tied with D.C. United in the fifth and final playoff position and the two will play each other next week at Saputo Stadium.