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Impact stays unbeaten with gritty win over Red Bulls

MarcoDiVaio1 (Getty)


Playing without Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and, Jamison Olave for the first time this season, the New York Red Bulls had a match that they’d like to quickly forget.

Brandon Barklage earned a red card in the 73rd minute, and a make-shift defensive unit struggled all match long. Meanwhile, debutant Peguy Luyindula missed two point-blank chances on goal, before being substituted with ten minutes to go.

On Saturday, New York (0-2-2) failed to score for the second week in a row, falling 1-0 to the Montreal Impact (4-0-0) at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Marco Di Vaio scored the only goal for the hosts in the 13th minute, taking advantage of the lack of chemistry between the Red Bull’s back line.

Di Vaio snuck through center defenders Heath Pearce and Markus Holgersson, beating the offside trap, before collecting a pass from Patrice Bernier, and shooting low into Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles’ net. It was the only goal that the Canadian side would need on the night, though both sides came very close on many occasions.

“I think we fell asleep a couple of times and they made us pay,” Petke said after the match. “We’ve got four in the back versus one, and he [Di Vaio] gets through, so to me that’s something I have to go back and look at and figure out.”

Without the likes of Henry and Cahill on the field, the Red Bulls offensive struggles continued. The squad, playing on turf for the third time this season, never looked comfortable or settled into the match. The Red Bulls midfield were also outworked all game long by the four in the center for Montreal, including Devy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Andres Romero, and the aforementioned Bernier.

Montreal was also missing a big piece of their lineup, playing for the first time this season without Alessandro Nesta in central defense. Impact academy graduate Karl Ouimette made his first career start, and alongside Mateo Ferrari, did very well to shut down the likes of Luyindula and Fabian Espindola.

“I was nervous… really nervous,” Ouimette said to the Montreal Impact. “I got goose bumps all over. But once you get your first touch, you get into the game. Then I won my first duel and it gave me confidence going forward.”

The defensive effort stretched the Red Bulls scoreless run to 253 minutes, going all the way back to the 17th minute of New York’s 2-1 loss at San Jose, when Eric Alexander scored the game’s opener. Both him and Jonny Steele started again on the wings, but failed to add any creative spark necessary to feed the Red Bull’s attack. In addition, Juninho and Dax McCarty in the center of the field never seemed to be on the same page.

“It’s a learning experience for us,” McCarty said. “We need to stay positive, try to work on some things, and try to get our first win.”

The Red Bulls certainly had their chances, especially on set pieces, making full use of Juninho’s talents on the pitch. Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins made three big saves, including one in the 43rd minute on a low strike by Luyindula. Though he didn’t score in his debut, Petke was very positive about his first appearance in a Red Bulls shirt.

“I think eight out of ten times, he finishes one of those chances he had,” said Petke. “His movement off the ball was very good, defensively he was committing to the pressure, so it’s definitely something to build on.

“I think we saw the quality he has.”

Despite being flagged six times for offside, Di Vaio was very positive after the match about his performance.

“I felt good out there tonight,” Di Vaio said to the Montreal Impact website. “I feel like things are getting better for me every game and I reacted well in finding space when moving forward.”

What did you think of the match?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. This was a really poor performance by the Red Bulls, but it’s unfair to say that it’s because Henry, Cahill and Olave weren’t available. We still made several great chances, despite the score. People are quick to forget that these guys have only been playing together for a matter of weeks.

    Their best form was against DC last weekend, where Pearce and Barklage could play farther up the field with Olave and Holgersson holding it down defensively (with Tim Cahill, oddly enough). Alexander and Steele have been great additions, and I’d like to see more of Lloyd Sam.

    My unsolicited 2 cents…

  2. As a neutral I am very impressed by Montreal’s quality of IQ in the midfield. Their consistent ability to find the pass into space, as well as runner who know how to find that space, has resulted in a lethal countering combination. It’s a style that looks very difficult to defend because it’s so varied and so quick to develop. It will interesting to see if they can maintain that quickness as the season wears on.

    As for Henry (as a neutral but long time fan of the player, Arsenal and Les Bleues). I’m not convinced that Henry is a DP that fits this league. His presence on the field seems to make other players shrink rather than rise to his level (of course it could be a lack of quality on the part of those players). In all the times I’ve watched RB play with him on the field, he rarely seems to lead as much and flash occasional brilliance and silently judge the other 10 folks on the field wearing red and white. I get that that he’s French, but as a DP the guy should lead and inspire, not intimidate and deflate.

  3. Montreal looked good on the counter and should have had more goals. Having said that, the Red Bulls should have put away quite a few as well. Against a team that’s more cohesive on the offensive end, I think Montreal is going to get drilled if they play like that all the time. But you can’t argue with 4-0…

    If the Red Bulls can find their finishing boots, then I think they’ll be fine.

    Definitely topsy turvy start to the season with many of the more “traditional” powers struggling to find their form

  4. Not surprising. Getting a coach after getting players (so the coach can’t build his system properly) is pretty much setting yourself up fo failure. Combine that with the poor recruitment of hasbeens like juninho and never have beens, and it’s the grand show of front office incompetence.

  5. The results of the season so far have been hard to predict, but this match was predictable. Montreal is playing some very nice soccer. But the other games have been tough to predict, and my fantasy teams is in disarray.

  6. NYRB fought hard on the road against a good Montreal side.

    Pretty good flurry to try and tie the thing up in the end but no result.

    Sure, not good for Petke so far but time will tell how this works out.

    The talent is there, the desire by management to succeed is obviously there.

    If these guys are truly the high pedigree vets we think they are then the early season rust and confusion should wear off.


    • Agree. The one problem – an all-too-familiar one – was miscommunication in the middle involving Holgersson, who’s just not fast enough to cover mistakes. Did anyone tell him that De Vaio needed to be watched closely? Poor Markus looked like he was surprised, again and again.

      • I think part of the problem is that so far in four games we have used four different back four combinations. We need to develop some consistency back there. Holgersson didn’t have a great game, but he made a lot of improvement over the course of last season. Hopefully he can continue to improve when playing next to Olave, who was our biggest absence in my opinion. I really can’t wait to see what the Pearce-Olave-Holgersson-Barklage combo looks like after being able to play 3-4 matches together.

      • Just basing it on past history of Henry. He’s a no-nonsense want to win at all costs guy and he’s looked increasingly frustrated on the pitch recently. Given he could just be upset about Roy Miller, but I’m thinking to how diplomatic he was in his initial interviews about Petke and his focus on Petke’s ties to the NYRB community and not on his football acumen.

        It could not be true, which is why I said guess.

      • Agree that Henry has that history. And that he looks frustrated at times. But he didn’t even play today. So your prediction is really based on the past, not on anything specific to this season.

      • Certainly not. But I don’t think even Henry in a sour mood could blame today’s loss on the coach. I know he’s not the most patient guy, but until he makes his displeasure manifest, I’m going to assume – hope? – that he’s still in Petke’s corner.

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