Skip to content

Two games, six points make for an unexpectedly perfect start for Montréal

Mar 10, 2013, 12:35 AM EST

ryan_johnson Getty Images

PORTLAND, Ore. — Marco Schällibaum may be new to Major League Soccer, but you couldn’t tell by the way he’s set up his team. Two games and six points into his Montréal Impact career, Schällibaum may as well have taken a page out of the books of Bruce Arena, Dominic Kinnear, and the other veteran coaches who’ve had consistent success in MLS. He’s kept it simple.

Using the same compact, conservative setup that earned a 1-0 win last week in Seattle, Montréal defeated Portland 2-1 on Saturday night, a match that was never in any real doubt. To look at the numbers alone you’d never know, with Portland holding large advantages in possession (64 percent) and shots (19-9). Aside from two chances for Ryan Johnson, the second of which was converted off a Ben Zemanski cross in the 81st minute, Portland failed to seriously stress Troy Perkins.

The Impact, on the other hand, proved dangerous early and often. In the eighth minute, Felipe pulled an open shot from inside the penalty area just wide of Donovan Ricketts’ goal. Three minutes later, Marco Di Vaio’s header was kept out by a spectacular save from Ricketts. The resulting corner kick saw an unmarked Hassoun Camara’s flick from the near post go just wide, while an open chance for Davy Arnaud in the 21st minute went for naught after the Montréal midfielder failed to control a cross from Jed Brovsky.

Montreal finally broke through in the 30th minute and spectacularly so, with Camara’s overhead kick from 16 yards going into the left side netting.  With Portland pushing for a second half equalizer, Felipe doubled the Impact’s lead in the 60th minute. A pristine pass from Patrice Bernier was converted to into the backbreaker by a sharp cutback pass from Andrea Pisanu.

It was the second straight week Schällibaum’s team had put on a clinic, his veteran squad content to sit back and wait for a mistake before pouncing. In Seattle, it was Arnaud and Di Vaio taking advantage of some momentary Sounder disorganization. Against Portland, a first half foul from Darlington Nagbe led to the first, while a spectacular pass and run that exploited Michael Harrington delivered the second.

It’s a plan that could blow up on other teams. But Schällibaum has the experience of Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari, and Patrice Bernier as the foundation of the defense. He has Di Vaio to control the attack, with Felipe and Davy Arnaud to run off him.

“It means a lot, when you have a group of guys who have played in big games and big moments,” Arnaud, the team’s captain said of his team’s experience. “We’ve had a lot of guys who’ve experienced that. When the times were kind of hectic on the field at different times of the game, there’s never a real sense of panic amongst the group, and that’s good.”

To his credit, Schällibaum has left it to his players. He has out a 4-1-4-1, instilled some basic tactical precepts, and let his talent do their thing. If he had his team executing a complicated scheme that relied on more than veteran guile and an opportunism, his team could have struggled starting the season so far from home.

Instead, Montréal has six points. Perhaps unexpectedly so.

Latest Posts
  1. Premier League Preview: West Ham United vs. Chelsea

    Mar 4, 2015, 7:50 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-WEST HAM Getty Images

    The Hammers are winless in their last five Premier League games and face a Chelsea side coming off their first trophy of the season.

  2. An open letter as Major League Soccer teeters on the brink of a work stoppage

    Mar 3, 2015, 11:26 PM EST

    MLS ALL-STAR GAME COMING BACK TO DENVER Getty Images

    We want to watch games this weekend. We’re not interested in the rationale. Find a way to get us your product.

  3. WATCH: Incredible 60-yard pass leads Montreal ouster of Pachuca in CONCACAF Champions League

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:05 PM EST

    @EtienneLyon @EtienneLyon

    Montreal has ensured that Major League Soccer will have at least one semifinalist in this season’s CONCACAF Champions League after a year out of the final four,

  4. Making the case for the Eastern Conference as a better option

    Mar 3, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    Joze Altidore AP

    Oh MLS: What fun is there in following the narrative?

  5. I Was There: Austin Gooners have their best singing voices ready for Everton

    Mar 3, 2015, 8:40 PM EST

    Austin Gooners

    If you’d like your supporters group to be featured on future episodes of ‘I Was There’ simply send pictures/video to @NBCSportsSoccer or NBC Sports Soccer on Twitter on Facebook using the #IWasThere.”

  6. 2015 MLS season preview: Vancouver Whitecaps

    Mar 3, 2015, 7:47 PM EST

    vancouver_whitecaps

    Vancouver may be missing that huge, huge name but is solid top-to-bottom.

  7. 2015 MLS season preview: Colorado Rapids

    Mar 3, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    Colorado Rapids logo

    It could be a dark year in Commerce City, but don’t forget that this was a promising young team that floundered last year.

  8. VIDEO: Tim Sherwood thinks Villa found turning point in dramatic 2-1 win

    Mar 3, 2015, 6:47 PM EST

    Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    The brash Englishman is happy to call the win a turning point for his club, which moves out of the relegation zone for the time being.

  9. Tuesday’s Premier League roundup: Saints, Villa win; Hull, Sunderland draw (video)

    Mar 3, 2015, 6:28 PM EST

    Videos, recaps, analysis and more from the three PL games during Week 28 on Tuesday.

  10. Ronald Koeman on Saints’ late win: “This is a key moment in our season”

    Mar 3, 2015, 5:53 PM EST

    Southampton v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    After a late win against Palace ended their goal drought, Saints remain in the top four hunt.

  11. After touchline spat and water bucket destruction, Bruce and Poyet both bring humor

    Mar 3, 2015, 5:52 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-HULL-SUNDERLAND Getty Images

    The pair of managers had to be separated on the touchline after Poyet angrily approached Bruce, who had been loudly criticizing a dive from Sunderland’s Jack Rodwell.

  12. 2015 MLS season preview: Toronto FC

    Mar 3, 2015, 5:17 PM EST

    Toronto FC logo

    This should be the year TFC breaks its MLS playoffs’ duck. But nothing’s ever certain in Toronto.

  13. Southampton 1-0 Crystal Palace: Mane’s late goal gets Saints back on track (video)

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    Southampton v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    Relief for Southampton, as Mane’s goal seals crucial win to keep top four hopes alive.

  14. Hull City 1-1 Sunderland: Rodwell helps Black Cats steal a point (video)

    Mar 3, 2015, 4:42 PM EST

    Hull City v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    The Tigers stay a point ahead of Sunderland. Hull is in 15th place with 27 points.

  15. Referee in Cyprus reveals match-fixing amid accusations from South Africa

    Mar 3, 2015, 3:29 PM EST

    Panayi AP

    A referee in Cyprus has come clean, describing an incredibly deep-rooted problem of match-fixing in the country that makes us wonder how prevalent this problem really is.

  16. FA delays Mackay racism decision as Cardiff board boycotts Wigan trip

    Mar 3, 2015, 2:35 PM EST

    Mackay Getty Images

    The FA says the finding of “significant new information” has led them to extend the investigation.

  17. Watch Live: Hull City vs. Sunderland (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 3, 2015, 2:09 PM EST

    Hull City v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    A massive relegation six-pointer between these two north east rivals. Watch live online, here.

  18. Watch Live: Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Tim Sherwood New Aston Villa Manager Press Conference and Photo Call Tim Sherwood New Aston Villa Manager Press Conference and Photo Call

    Can Villa get their first win under Sherwood in this huge Midlands derby? Watch live online, right here.