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Impact topple Timbers for second straight road win

HassounCamara (SBI)


In a game that showcased a contrast of philosophies, the Montreal Impact and their defensive-minded style knocked off the possession-heavy Portland Timbers, 2-1, on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Jeld-Wen Field.

A Hassoun Camara overhead kick goal in the 30th minute gave the visitors the lead while Felipe Martins doubled the gap half an hour later after he found himself unmarked in front of Donovan Ricketts. A late Ryan Johnson goal made the final ten minutes interesting, but in the end, the Impact won their second straight road match to start the season, already matching their 2012 total for road wins.

The  Timbers knew exactly what to expect from the Impact in the week leading up to the match, but were unable to do enough to overcome the amount of constant harassment in the final third by the Canadian side. Montreal’s pack-it-in style relied on its ability to punish their opponent when they make mistakes and that came as no surprise to Timbers head coach Caleb Porter.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, everything we thought they’d do, they did,” Porter said after the match. “We knew they would hit us on counterattacks, we knew they would hit us on set pieces. It was disappointing that we let them hurt us twice in moments we prepared for all week.”

The contrast of styles led to the Timbers dominating the statsheet in certain areas such as possession (63% to 37%) and shots (19 to 9), but Portland seemed to have trouble breaking down the middle of the Impact’s defensive unit and getting meaningful shots on target.

While Ryan  Johnson did force a nice save from Perkins in the first half and did score late, there seemed to be few goal scoring opportunities for the Timbers in the match. Montreal’s Italian centerback pair of Matteo Ferrari and Alessandro Nesta were hardly ever out-of-position and turned back multiple Timbers shots with timely blocks.

“Their back-line is very organized, very comfortable sitting back and Nesta and Ferrari do a great job of not letting you get behind them,” said Porter, who is still searching for his first win as a MLS coach.  “They get you right in that distance from goal where if you try to pull the trigger they’ll step and block it. But they don’t open themselves up for us to slip a ball in behind you.”

In addition to the centerback combo, Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier spent the majority of the game marking Timbers Designated Player Diego Valeri and, for the most part, was able to win the matchup and prevent Valeri from duplicating his impressive MLS debut six days ago against the New York Red Bulls. Despite having six shots, Valeri seemed to wear down from the constant badgering from Bernier.

After the match, Timbers Captain Will Johnson was highly complementary of his fellow Canadian’s performance.

“Patrice is a good player. Defensively he’s just a smart guy, you wouldn’t expect anything less,” Will Johnson said.

Bernier also had a hand in the Impact’s second goal, nicely playing Andres Romero past the right side of the Timbers defense. Romero, who just entered the game as a substitute, calmly found a streakking Felipe Martins, who finished perfectly from six yards out.

Despite the lack of possession, Montreal head coach Marco Schallibaum felt his side was the better of the two Saturday night.

“We didn’t come in here and steal three points,” said the Swiss manager. “It was a difficult and tight game, but we responded well. ”

Porter had a different take on the match.

“We were good enough today to win that game, if we dont keep those critical mistakes,” Porter said. “It’s disappointing to dominate like we did and not get the result.”

Looking ahead, the Timbers might need to have a shakeup on a back-line that has conceded five goals in two games. On both Montreal goals, the Impact had multiple unmarked players.

The centerback pairing of Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Mikael Silvestre also left a few gaping holes on quick throw-ins and counterattacks in the first half, but a diving Ricketts save on a Marco Di Vaio header prevented the Italian from putting his club ahead.

“Defensively, we’re not giving up a ton of shots, but we’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” Porter said.

Portland will now travel on the road for the first time in the Caleb Porter era with a matchup against the rival Seattle Sounders.

The Impact will return to Canada with a 2-0 record as they prepare for their home debut against Canadian rival Toronto FC.


  1. Montreal always had a good offense that could score but lacked a defence. They appear to have solved the problem, first bringing in a new GK…..

    Timbers look good and just need to build on what they have started. Harrington’s air balls tend to float too much, his passes on the ground are fine but the combinations from the forwards are lacking. Too early to tell about this team. I wonder if Nagbe could do some damage as a conventional right winger.

  2. It’s like rock-paper-scissors. Possession beats direct; direct beats defensive; defensive beats possession.

    Of course it doesn’t always work out as cleanly as the kids’ hand game. Let’s just say that all else being equal, that formula gives nice advantages.

  3. awesome game. Timbers pressed but couldn’t score, at times just a touch away from making it happen. Impact held tough and converted their chances so gotta hand it to them there. It’s gonna be a great spring and summer in Portland.

  4. Porter’s quotes after (and throughout) the U23 debacle are equally hilarious.

    The Timbers were lucky not to be down 4-0. And yet he remains an arrogant insufferable loudmouth..

  5. It was interesting to see Camara get the goal after a week in which local pundits signalled him out as a key player for the team to be successful this season. He’s quite versatile and equipped to play as a fullback, centreback and as a target on attacking half set-pieces.

    It was noce to see Felipe and Arnaud look more comfortable together in the centre of midfield.

    I really think Nyassi is a better weapon when he enters the game in the second half. His speed is deadly and is that much more dangerous when he comes into games as a sub. I assume Mapp goes back in when he is ready, but would have liked to have seen Mallace start on the left flank.

  6. I don’t know what game Porter was watching, because despite all of Portland’s possession, they’re attack was toothless. Montreal let them run around with the ball and hurt them when Montreal had its opportunities. Montreal perhaps should have won this game 4-1 on the two additional shots they barely missed or were saved in the 1st half.

    • Haters gonna hate I guess. I dont know what game you dudes on here were watching, but Porter was exactly right. One Montreal goal was bad defending and one was a goal of the week/ goal of the year contender on a set piece – a goal no one can stop. Take away those two goals and give Portland the deserved penalty call in first half and Portland wins 2-0. And yeah, Porter brings his Akron boy on and he serves up the assist on their goal. You Eurosnobs just can take the fact that a college guy put together a team that plays while the euro coach and imported just defend and counter ala USA Bob Bradley.

  7. I listened to this game in french from my bed in Jerusalem, Israel and I gotta tell you this was an amazing game, great saves, great atmosphere in Portland and a great 6 points in 2 games for the Impact. What a way to begin the season in 2 of arguably the most difficult stadiums to play in.

  8. “Dominated” another game and just let some itty bitty mistakes cause you to unfairly lose, guy? Caleb Porter does not like to give opponents credit. It’s unbecoming.

    • Porter makes a lot of excuses. It is also unbecoming to basically say – I knew what they were going to do and did everything I could to win, it just too bad the players lost the game.


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