Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By CARL SETTERLUND
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.– The Montreal Impact wasn’t known for its road form entering Sunday night’s match against the New England Revolution, but a few advantageous whistles in the opening run of play changed everything for the Eastern Conference leaders.
Marco Di Vaio got on the score sheet twice, but the Italian sniper’s top-of-the-hour brace was secondary in importance to the fifth-minute red card he drew on Revs goalie Matt Reis, leaving the hosts outnumbered and overrun the rest of the way.
Quebec native Patrice Bernier scored twice from the penalty spot in the first half – Felipe Martins also drew a PK on center back Jose Goncalves in the 31st minute – and Di Vaio added two more goals on nearly identical plays to boost the Impact to a 4-2 victory at Gillette Stadium.
“Every [road] game is very difficult,” said Impact coach Marco Schallibaum. “We won in Seattle, we won in Portland and in Kansas. Because it is a good team, New England, with 10 players, they make nice things, the pressure. Again it was very important to get these three points.”
Di Vaio made it 3-1 Montreal in the second minute of first half stoppage time and then increased it to a three-goal lead in the 55th minute.
“They equalized and then we got a second penalty, and then I think that’s when we started stepping on the gas and we managed to get a 3- and 4-1 lead,” Bernier said. “Give them credit, they kept hustling even though with 10 men they tried to push. They never stopped.”
Di Vaio scored both goals through the same build up, receiving a pair of weighted long balls over the top from right back Hassoun Camara and then cutting it inside to ditch his marker – both times it was Revs center back AJ Soares – to get off a quick right-footed shot. On his first tally, Di Vaio went near post from the left side. On the second, he sent another low volley inside the far right post.
“He is an opportunist,” Schallibaum said. “He is a goal-maker, he is a machine, like a terminator. I told him before the game he was a terminator and we need him again.”
A 37-year-old Serie A veteran, Di Vaio retook the lead in the race for the MLS Golden Boot, upping his season tally to 17 goals, which is two ahead of the Chicago Fire’s Mike Magee.
“Guys like that, it’s one or two chances and they put it in the back, and that’s what you need when you want to go further in this league and go to the playoffs,” Bernier said.
Montreal (13-7-6, 45 points) now sits in a three-way tie in points atop the Eastern Conference, with two games in hand over fellow top squads New York and Sporting Kansas City. It was only their fourth win in 13 road games (4-6-3) this season, as opposed to an impressive 9-1-3 record at home.
The Revolution battled back to equalize, 1-1, on a 26th-minute redirect by 18-year-old Diego Fagundez, who trailed Dmitry Imbongo on a breakaway. Fagundez had the ball come to his feet as a last-gasp tackle by Montreal’s Jeb Brovsky poked it straight over to him in the middle of the box.
Fagundez sent a pinball shot in, leaving keeper Troy Perkins flatfooted.
“We practice these situations – we don’t practice them for 90 minutes worth of down a man – but I thought we did well,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said. “We actually practice stuff where it’s, you get a red card, you give up a goal and you’ve got 30 minutes to get back in the game – that’s what we did.”
The Impact had a bit of good fortune on their first penalty kick in that Reis was in position to make the stop, but a rare poor touch by Di Vaio led to the takedown.
“The ball got played through, and [Di Vaio] tried to hit it first-time and it got caught up in between his legs,” said Reis, running through the play. “At that point, I made a play for the ball and I touched him, but I didn’t touch him very hard. He went down and looking at the replay, it looks like he kicks the ball out of bounds. So for me, if he wants to give the penalty, fine, but I completely disagree with the red card. It’s the letter of the law, but it’s also up for interpretation.”
Heaps was disgruntled by what he described as the “demeanor” of referee Sorin Stoica, saying he did not explain either penalty to him. Stoica clarified after the game that on the Reis red card he felt “all the requirements for DOGSO (denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity) were met.”
The visitors were again fortunate, but in a different way, on their 33rd-minute goal. Felipe went down with minimal contact from Goncalves, who did not receive a booking on Stoica’s crucial PK call. The Revolution captain later rushed over to confront Felipe after the halftime whistle.
“You can see that Felipe was flying everywhere on the field when someone touched him. The referee should be aware of that,” said Goncalves regarding the 31st-minute foul, which took place on the left edge of the box. “He gave the penalty straight away the second time and I was very surprised.”
Red-hot New England midfielder Kelyn Rowe recorded a point for a fourth straight game, pulling it back from a deep run into the box for a 76th-minute stunner. Two weeks after pulling in MLS Goal of the Week honors, Rowe has another contender for the award after curling it into the upper right corner.
Fagundez, meanwhile, now has two goals and three assists over the Revs’ last three matches, upping his season totals to 10 goals and six assists. The 22-year-old Rowe has compiled six goals and seven assists as he and Fagundez have taken control of the New England offense in 2013.
The 38-year-old Reis had not lost in five previous matches this year. He was making his fourth straight start as the longtime Revs keeper, a former teammate of Heaps’, looked to have briefly unseated incumbent Bobby Shuttleworth.
New England (10-10-7, 37 points) is seeking its first playoff berth since 2009 and was able to maintain its hold over the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. However, the Revolution have crucial fixtures ahead at Chicago (35 points) next weekend and back in Foxboro against the Houston Dynamo (37 points) on Sept. 28.
Here are the game highlights: