Impact 1, Sounders 0
It took a perfect goal from Davy Arnaud to give Montreal a
surprising season-opening win and provide Seattle a shock that its
nearly perfect preseason meant nothing.
Arnaud caught Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning off his line
and scored in the 35th minute, and the Impact opened the 2013 MLS
season with an unexpected 1-0 win over the Sounders on Saturday
”Scoring goals on the road is tough, and especially against
them,” Arnaud said. ”They score a lot of goals here at home. This
year during preseason, we were pretty solid defensively. If we can
continue to score one goal and get points out of games on the road,
we’re going to be OK.”
Arnaud and midfielder Felipe connected on a quick counter attack
late in the first half after Seattle controlled much of the play.
Montreal then withstood the Sounders push for a tying goal in the
second half to hand Seattle its second loss in a home opener in the
five seasons of the franchise.
Arnaud, who scored the first goal in Montreal’s history a season
ago, got behind Seattle’s defense and collected the perfectly
measured pass from Felipe. Arnaud then chipped the shot with the
outside of his right foot over Gspurning, who had wondered too far
away from his net.
”He made a perfect goal I have to admit,” Gspurning said. ”He
touches one-time over my 6-foot-6 (frame), that’s brilliant.”
The result was surprising considering each team’s perceived
standing heading into the season. Seattle is expected to be among
the league’s elite while Montreal is viewed as a still developing
franchise. Seattle doesn’t have much time to worry about the loss
as they face Mexican power Tigres in the first leg of the CONCACAF
Champions League quarterfinals next Wednesday with the return leg
on March 12 in Seattle. The Sounders do not play another league
match until March 16 against rival Portland.
”Anytime you get slapped in the face like this in a game
hopefully you rise from that,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said.
”Hopefully you become a little more determined, motivated, a
little more focused and that is something we certainly have to be
in the Champions League and something we have to be in our next
Montreal will play at Portland next Saturday night.
Seattle will lament its missed chances to at least gain a point,
no one more than Eddie Johnson. In the 81st minute, Johnson had a
point-blank attempt in front of Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins,
but his left-footed shot went high, rattled off the crossbar and
ricocheted away from trouble. Johnson had taken a deft pass from
Alex Caskey to get the opportunity, but couldn’t convert Seattle’s
best scoring chance of the game.
About 15 minutes earlier, Seattle had another chance turned away
by the frame of the goal when Brad Evans’ shot from 20 yards out
beat Perkins but rattled off the post. Moments before Evans was
denied, Arnaud missed a chance to give the Impact a 2-0 lead when
his header off a cross from Sanna Nyassi was tipped just enough by
Gspurning to deflect off the crossbar.
”The first one off the post, I did get a touch to it, and got
pretty lucky with it not coming straight back off my leg off the
post,” Perkins said. ”The other one where Eddie hits it off the
crossbar, I think it’s just a reaction from him to put his foot in,
and he gets a little bit unlucky.”
Seattle played without defensive midfield star Osvaldo Alonso
and defender Marc Burch, both serving suspensions that carried over
from the end of last season. Andy Rose took the place of Alonso
while 19-year-old rookie DeAndre Yedlin got the start along the
defensive backline with starter Adam Johansson out with a knee
sprain. Schmid also said that forward David Estrada had an ankle
injury and midfielder Lamar Neagle was unavailable as part of the
agreement reached when he was traded from Montreal to Seattle
during the preseason.
The lack of chances for Seattle also highlighted one of its
major concerns in giving Johnson help up front. The Sounders
reached a buyout with designated player Christian Tiffert on
Saturday, opening up a spot should Seattle be able to complete its
pursuit of Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins, who is currently
playing for Levante in Spain.