Impact, turf beats Metro, 1:0
March 23, 2013
In early days of MLS, the synthetic surfaces -- especially that at Giants Stadium -- turned the game of soccer into a hybrid of ping-pong. Almost two decades have passed; the fake surfaces are better now, yet they are still a factor. Today's game was played in Montreal's Olympic Stadium instead of their grassy home base of Saputo Stadium, and the venue decided the match. Metro ended up losing 1:0 on a bounce that the artificial surface gifted to the home team.
The aversion to turf reared its head even before the game. It was obvious that Titi Henry, who picked up a knock last week, would miss this one. But Jamison Olave was held out as well, with Heath Pearce sliding into the middle and Kosuke Kimura starting on the left. Peguy Luyindula debuted, taking Henry's place up top. Juninho started for the first time since the opener, relieving Tim Cahill, who left on international duty.
The lone goal of the match came in the 14th minute. A long ball from midfield beat the Metro offside trap, bounced on the turf, and was well-taken by Marco Di Vaio from just outside the box. It was Luis Robles' lone down moment of the match; the goalkeeper, perhaps feeling Kevin Hartman's breath on the back of his neck, was terrific throughout, saving another Di Vaio breakaway and contributing a number of key saves to keep the margin at one.
Unfortunately, Metro couldn't reduce that margin, but it wasn't for the number of chances. In the first half, a Juninho free kick was met in the box by Pearce, but Luyindula skied the rebound. In the second, Jonny Steele, feet from the net, was thwarted by Troy Perkins. Another Juninho free kick was misplayed by the Montreal keeper, but he managed to finally control the ball. Luyindula was denied from close range to close out a frustrating debut.
In the 74th minute, Brandon Barklage got his second yellow card after he was pushed outside the box, falling onto a Montreal attacker. That made the game all but decided.
Two points, four games... it's not time to panic just yet, but the ship better be righted sooner rather than later, turf or not.
Lineup: Robles, Kimura, Pearce, Holgersson, Barklage, McCarty, Steele, Alexander, Juninho, Luyindula, Espindola. Subs: Lade, Martinez, Sam.