Skip to content

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

Mar 10, 2013, 12:35 AM EDT

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. Sepp Blatter transcript in full; admits “shame and humiliation” of FIFA scandal

    May 28, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT

    65th FIFA Congress - Opening Ceremony 65th FIFA Congress - Opening Ceremony

    FIFA’s long-time president has addressed the congress in Zurich about the shocking allegations of corruption.

  2. UEFA could leave FIFA if Blatter stays on, as support for Prince Ali grows

    May 28, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT

    UEFA to discuss possibility of walking away from FIFA in Berlin next month.

  3. Sepp Blatter refuses to quit as FIFA president despite plea from UEFA’s Michel Platini

    May 28, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT

    150528_BlatterFIFAlog Getty Images

    UEFA’s chief pleads with Blatter to walk away as world soccer’s governing body is in ruins.

  4. In historic first, FIFA 16 video game to feature women’s national teams, players

    May 28, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

    (Photo Courtesy EA Sports) (Photo Courtesy EA Sports)

    PHOTOS & VIDEO: Women’s players are available in the FIFA video game series for the first time.

  5. Rafael Benitez confirms Napoli exit, expected to take charge of Real Madrid

    May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Rafael Benítez Rafael Benítez

    Former Valencia, Liverpool boss has called time in Naples as his hometown is calling.

  6. Russia, Vladimir Putin criticize US government for “illegal persecution” of FIFA

    May 28, 2015, 7:51 AM EDT

    Sepp Blatter, Vladimir Putin Sepp Blatter, Vladimir Putin

    The Russian president finds it “odd” that the FBI is chasing down FIFA officials…

  7. MLS Snapshot: LA Galaxy 1-0 Real Salt Lake

    May 28, 2015, 12:53 AM EDT

    Juninho, LA Galaxy Juninho, LA Galaxy

    Juninho’s early PK is all the Galaxy need, as they climb to 4th in the Western Conference. RSL, meanwhile, are on the outside looking in.

  8. US Open Cup 3rd round roundup: MLS teams learn 4th round opponents

    May 28, 2015, 12:43 AM EDT

    DC United v Real Salt Lake - 2013 U.S. Open Cup Final Getty Images

    17 MLS teams will entire this year’s US Open Cup in the 4th round. On Wednesday, they learned who they’ll face.

  9. MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 1-0 D.C. United

    May 28, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT

    Maximiliano Urruti, Portland Timbers Maximiliano Urruti, Portland Timbers

    Wins in May don’t get much more “must-win” than this one. PDX tops the East’s top team.

  10. Agent: Mario Balotelli “will definitely stay” at Liverpool despite disappointing first season

    May 27, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC

    According to his agent, Balotelli is going nowhere this summer. He’ll stay and fight for his place next season.

  11. FIFA ethics committee bans 11 current, former officials from all football-related activities

    May 27, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    11 current and former officials from around the world have been provisionally banned from all football-related activities.

  12. Men in Blazers podcast: Mourning the end of the season with The True Geordie

    May 27, 2015, 5:23 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Rog and Davo relive the Premier League’s season finale, including squeaky bum time at the bottom of the table.

  13. Sevilla defeat Dnipro, 3-2, to win back-to-back Europa League titles, Champions League place

    May 27, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

    Carlos Bacca, FC Sevilla Getty Images

    It was a thrilling Europa League final. Sevilla are back-to-back Europa League champions, and into next year’s Champions League.

  14. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Top ten forwards

    May 27, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    Aguero Getty Images

    Sergio Aguero was the Premier League’s top goalscorer this season, but was he the best attacker in the league? He has plenty of competition.

  15. Dick Advocaat will not return to Sunderland next season

    May 27, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptlkzmrknjvjnguzzdq0mwrlzti5ztk2otdimda3njkx AP

    After leading the Black Cats to Premier League safety, “The Little General” has announced he won’t return to the Stadium of Light next season.

  16. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Top ten midfielders

    May 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea FC Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea FC

    Goal scorers, goal creators, ball winners, possession destroyers — the list of top-10 midfielders has a little bit of everything.

  17. UEFA calls for postponement of FIFA presidential election, threatens to boycott congress

    May 27, 2015, 2:43 PM EDT

    Michel Platini AP

    “Today’s events are a disaster for FIFA and tarnish the image of football as a whole. “

  18. FIFA president Sepp Blatter releases first statement since overnight arrests

    May 27, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT

    ISRAEL-FBL-UEFA-EUR-SPORT Getty Images

    The most controversial figure in world soccer has broken his silence.

  19. Ashley Westwood says Arsenal will have “sleepless nights” over Christian Benteke

    May 27, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Everton- Premier League Getty Images

    If Aston Villa wants any shot at beating Arsenal in the FA Cup final this Saturday, Christian Benteke must come up big.

  20. Three things we learned from the US Department of Justice news conference on the FIFA investigation

    May 27, 2015, 1:06 PM EDT

    Loretta Lynch Loretta Lynch

    “This really is the World Cup of fraud, and today we are issuing FIFA a red card.”

Featured video

PST Extra reviews the 2014-15 season