By DAN KARELL
Despite playing one to two matches less than everyone else in the Eastern Conference, the Montreal Impact continue to find themselves on top, with room to spare.
Impact forward Marco Di Vaio scored once and nearly had two more if not for the crossbar and a kick save from Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall as the Impact topped the Dynamo, 2-0, on Wednesday night at Stade Saputo. The win puts the Canadian side four points ahead of the second-place club, the New York Red Bulls.
With head coach Marco Schällibaum back on the sidelines and Alessandro Nesta in the heart of defense, the Impact looked like the team of old, and nothing like the one who fell 2-0 to Columbus last Saturday. The Impact only needed 14 minutes to score the opener, as midfielder Patrice Bernier, with all the time in the world, bent an out-swinging ball with the outside of his right boot towards teammate Felipe Martins in the box, who took two touches to finish past Hall for an early lead.
The turning point of the match came in the 20th minute as the referee awarded the Dynamo a controversial penalty kick after Impact defender Matteo Ferrari took out the Dynamo’s Will Bruin. Giles Barnes stepped up a minute later to take the penalty kick but he put his shot was high and wide to the left, wasting a huge opportunity.
Di Vaio doubled the lead when he took advantage of a poor back pass into the defensive third, going one-on-one with Hall, and chipping the Dynamo goalkeeper in the 32nd minute. Di Vaio nearly scored the team’s third in the 62nd minute when his glancing header cannoned off the crossbar.
Barnes put a long-range shot on target in the 82nd minute, but Troy Perkins strong goalkeeping in net for the Impact kept the Dynamo off the board, despite enjoying a large percentage of possession on the evening. The result keeps a log-jam in the Eastern Conference standings, with the Dynamo sitting tied on points in fourth place with the Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City, all of them on 22 points.
Here are the match highlights: