A "W" for the new head coach
In the team's first match of the preseason, the Montreal Impact came from behind to earn a 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City (1-1 at half-time), on Saturday, at the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic tournament, presented at the ESPN Wide World of Sport in Orlando, Florida. Forward Marco Di Vaio scored in stoppage time in the first half, while Andrew Wenger scored the game winner in the 61st minute.
SKC opened the scoring in the 18th minute when midfielder Graham Zusi fired one from 25 yards out, which left goalkeeper Troy Perkins no chance on the play.
The Impact tied things up just before the half-time whistle when midfielder Patrice Bernier played a long ball down centre field to Designated Player Marco Di Vaio, who squeezed through the defence and beat SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen with a low shot as he broke in on goal.
The Impact took the lead in the 61st minute. Just seconds after coming on as a substitute, Academy product Maxim Tissot dribbled down the left flank and played a through ball for Wenger, who beat Nielsen with a low shot.
"It's the first game in three months for this group. The important thing is we won the game," said Impact head coach Marco Schällibaum. "There are things we need to work on as we had some difficulty in the first 20 minutes. But we never gave up on going for the win. In the second half, after the second goal, we continued to show that we wanted to win this game. I saw a lot of players who were ready to suffer for this team."
"We were happy to finally play a game after three long weeks of training," said midfielder Patrice Bernier. "We didn't dominate the game but came out with the win. We need to play as quickly as possible with the ball and move a lot on the field. It took some time to adjust to the field, but we got better and better as the game went."
Troy Perkins made a game saving stop in the 89th minute off of a header by defender Ike Opara.
The Impact had its best chance of the first half in the 26th minute. Midfielder Sanna Nyassi, deep in Kansas City territory, played a cross to team captain Davy Arnaud, who one-timed his shot, but Nielsen dove to his left to knock away the low ball.
The Impact will play its second game of the tournament against the Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) on Wednesday, February 13.