Crew rally to stun Saputo Stadium 2-1
By: Giordano Cescutti
For a team fighting for much more than just a postseason berth, the Montreal Impact failed to demonstrate why they belong atop the Eastern Conference in an underwhelming showing against the 8th-seeded Columbus Crew. It didn't help that they faced their "nemesis," as proclaimed by Head Coach Marco Schallibäum, a team they haven't beaten in three opportunities this season, two of which were at Saputo Stadium. Their hopes for a Supporters' Shield dwindle even further away.
Much like he did in their first encounter of the season, Columbus forward Dominic Oduro made the Impact pay for its lackluster defending. This time his goal meant much more. He snuck by Montreal's back-four in the 79th minute and with the slightest of touches, put his club right back into the mix for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, while accomplishing a feat that only the Colorado Rapids were able to do this season; defeat the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium.
Montreal struggled to create in the second half and extend their one-goal advantage, opening the door for the Crew comeback. Columbus continued to fight, always looking lively in large part due to their leader; Frederico Higuain who was instrumental in their equalizing goal. In the 66th minute the Argetine whipped a dangerous dead-ball into the Montreal 18-yard box, finding the head of towering defender Chad Marshall, who beat an out-stretched Troy Perkins.
Captain Davy Arnaud returned to Marco Schallibaum's starting lineup for the first time since August 10th and was disappointed with his team's defending off free-kicks.
"We spoke before the game about how dangerous they were on set-pieces and it hurts us because they get back in the game on a set-piece."
Marco Di Vaio scored his league leading 18th goal of the season, his fifth in his last three games at Fortress Saputo just after the 24-minute mark.
Central defender Matteo Ferrari knocked Justin Mapp's corner into the six-yard box where the red-hot Di Vaio was eagerly waiting to extend his goal-scoring lead. In what may be his final season in MLS, Di Vaio headed Ferrari's pass into the back of Crew keeper Matt Lampson's goal to put Montreal ahead at home, where they've lost only once all season.
Creative midfielders Felipe and Frederico Higuain were tremendous from start to finish and nearly orchestrated early goals for their respective sides. Just ten minutes in, Montreal's Felipe, who has thrived in his new role higher up the pitch, played a stunning ball for Justin Mapp who was in alone in front of Columbus' goal. However, Mapp dribbled too deep before shooting, and a trailing defender eliminated any opportunity for a clean shot and an Impact goal. Moments later off an Impact corner, the Crew's Higuain grabbed the loose ball and carried over Montreal's side of midfield before springing speedster Dominic Oduro. Troy Perkins stood tall in goal and tossed the Gambian's powerful shot aside to keep things leveled.
The Impact continues CONCACAF Champions League play on Tuesday in San Jose. It defeated the Earthquakes 1-0 at Saputo Stadium on August 7th but dropped its second group stage match in Guatemala to C.D. Heredia 1-0.
Montreal then returns to CJAD800 one week from today when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps for the first time in MLS regular season play.