By TYLER DAY
The Montreal Impact delivered a complete performance on Saturday and remain unbeaten at home after a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire at Stade Saputo.
Second-half goals from Andres Romero and Marco Di Vaio, as well as a controversial red card for the Fire, temporarily vaulted the Impact back atop the Eastern Conference standings with a 5-1-1 record.
After a lackluster first half with few chances for either side, Montreal took control in the second and found the net in the 57th minute. Andrea Pisanu located Andres Romero on the left side of the box, and Romero curled a shot into the far corner to make it 1-0.
Romero had room to maneuver because Fire captain Logan Pause was caught helping inside on Di Vaio. Pause was the fifth different starting Fire right back in eight games this season, starting for the suspended Wells Thompson.
Controversy came just 6 minutes later when Jeff Larentowicz caught Daniele Paponi from behind just outside the box. Larentowicz was given straight red and the referee called for a penalty kick. After consultation, the referee maintained the red card, but adjusted the penalty to outside the box. Sean Johnson saved Di Vaio’s shot to hold the score at 1-0.
With 30 minutes to go and a man up, Montreal pushed forward and Marco Di Vaio was able to seal the game with his goal in the 76th minute. Daniele Paponi sent the ball across the box to Di Vaio, who settled it with his back to goal, turned quickly, and fired the ball into the left corner.
Di Vaio has now scored in all four home games for Montreal, who won for the first time since March 23rd.
Chicago continued its struggles on the road, dropping to 0-3-1 away from Toyota Park, and 2-5-1 overall. They managed very few chances even before the Larentowicz red card, and had only 38 percent of the possession. Scoreless striker Sherjill MacDonald was subbed off for Maicon Santos midway through the second half, but Santos was unable to muster anything.
There will be a bit of concern for the Impact as veteran defender Allesandro Nesta came off in the 54th minute. He was visibly frustrated when he came out, but it is yet to be determined the severity of an apparent groin injury. His replacement, Wandrille Lefevre, played well and did contribute on Romero’s goal. Goalkeeper Troy Perkins led the Impact to its third clean sheet of the season.
Montreal will travel to San Jose next week, while Chicago has a bye and will host Philadelphia in two weeks.
Here are the match highlights: