MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact moved into first place in MLS and consolidated their position atop the Eastern conference standings Wednesday night with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo at Saputo Stadium.
Midfielder Andrea Pisanu and forward Daniele Paponi returned to the starting lineup for the first time after suffering injuries in May and both players were in sparkling form as their link up play helped the Impact put the Dynamo back line under constant pressure in the first half.
After Felipe opened the scoring in the 14th minute, Marco Di Vaio got his 10th goal of the season in the 34th with a classy chip over Dynamo keeper Tally Hall and the visitors were never able to find a way back in the game.
Impact coach Marco Schällibaum was thrilled with the way his players posed almost continuous danger to the Houston defense and felt that the Impact could have easily won the game by a more lopsided score line.
“We were very strong today,” Schallibaum said in French in the post-game press conference. “We had so many chances before halftime and we really could have been leading by three, four or even five goals.
“We weren’t as sharp in the second half, but we still managed to create a bunch of chances there as well. There’s no question that we fully deserved the result."
Di Vaio, who has scored in each of the Impact’s seven home games, was happy to once again be able to team up with Paponi and build off the chemistry they created during their time together at Bologna in Serie A.
“I think I’ve had more training sessions with him than I’ve had with all my teammates here combined,” Di Vaio joked in Italian. “So we know each other really well. He knows how I move and I know how he moves and what he can bring. I’m happy we played well."
The Impact were also boosted by the return of Alessandro Nesta, who was forced to sit out of the Impact’s last game in Columbus due to a one-game suspension. The Impact have yet to lose a match this season in which the veteran defender has featured in the starting XI.
Team captain Davy Arnaud, who’s been out of action for more than a month after suffering a mild concussion against Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship, has also returned to training and should be back in action next week when the Impact take on the Colorado Rapids at Saputo Stadium.
Schällibaum also said that he hopes Nelson Rivas will soon be able to fully recover from his host of injury problems, but didn’t specify when exactly that might be.