Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG.Photography
By JASON MITCHELL
SEATTLE, Wash. – With only a single match under its belt, the Montreal Impact have already accumulated half as many road wins as they managed all of last season. A clever first-half chip shot from Davy Arnaud gave the Impact all the scoring it would need, lifting the team to a 1-0 upset over the host Seattle Sounders.
For much of the first half, Seattle seemed destined to score first, piling up seven corners and eight shots as it controlled possession and the game seemed to rarely stray from its attacking third.
But the Sounders (0-1) never seriously threatened Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins, and in the 35th minute Arnaud capitalized for a Montreal side looking to strike on the counter.
Arnaud got behind Seattle’s back line on the end of a bouncing through-ball from Felipe Martins and caught Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning drifting off his line. The veteran midfielder then perfectly chipped Gspurning, lifting a shot that snuck just over the Austrian’s outstretched hands before ducking under the crossbar.
“It was a great goal, so you have to congratulate him,” said Gspurning, “because to chip the ball over [a] 6 foot 6 [person] is not easy.”
“To score the goal, it was very important,” said Montreal head coach Marco Schallibaum, “because it was nil-nil at the time. He was a very good captain also, to guide us as a team on the field.”
“I’ve had some pretty good luck here,” said Arnaud, who also scored in Seattle in 2009 as a member of the Kansas City Wizards. “It’s a great stadium to play in and a great atmosphere. It’s a big win for us.”
Seattle nearly equalized twice in the second half, but hit the frame both times. In the 66th minute Brad Evans slapped the right post from the top of the penalty area. Fifteen minutes later Eddie Johnson managed to find only the crossbar from the top of the six-yard box.
Montreal (1-0) finished 12-16-6 in its inaugural season, managed only two road wins, and gave up the fourth-most goals in MLS. It was nonetheless one of the quieter clubs in the league over the offseason, apparently hoping a new coach in Schallibaum and full seasons of Alessandro Nesta and Marco Di Vaio would be enough to lift it into playoff contention.
For one night, at least, the plan looked perfect.
As for Seattle, at least the Sounders know the team that took the pitch in front of 38,998 at CenturyLink Field Saturday night is not the team it expects to field for the rest of the season.
Patrick Ianni, Adam Johansson, Shalrie Joseph, and David Estrada sat with physical issues. Suspensions sidelined both Osvaldo Alonso and Marc Burch. Recently acquired forward Lamar Neagle was unavailable due to the terms of his trade from Montreal. And negotiations continue with major transfer target Obafemi Martins, a second-half substitute for Spanish side Levante earlier in the day.
“It’s important how we start,” said Seattle head coach Sigi Shmid, “[but] I think what’s really important is how we finish things. So hopefully this is a little wake-up call for us.”
Here are the match highlights: