MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact opened its Reserve League season with a 3-0 shutout victory over the New York Red Bulls, Sunday morning, at Olympic Stadium. Forward Andrew Wenger, Academy midfielder Kevin Luarca and midfielder Blake Smith scored in the win.
The Impact opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Zakaria Messoudi used a clever lob to put the ball into space past the Red Bulls defence. Forward Andrew Wenger made a post to post run and hammered a one timer past RBNY goalkeeper Santiago Castano to his right.
The home team then doubled its lead in the 29th minute when midfielder Collen Warner, wearing the captain’s armband for the matchup, played a short through ball that found Academy midfielder Kevin Luarca in motion. Luarca used one touch to step into the box before firing a left footer that beat Castano low to his left, opposite post.
Midfielder Blake Smith scored his first ever goal in an Impact uniform when he took advantage of a give-and-go with Wenger down the left flank in the 83rd minute, putting him through on a break and beating Castano to his left, far post. Messoudi started the play in midfield, switching the ball cross field with the outside of his foot.
Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush made two big saves in the first half, one on a blast by Red Bulls forward Martinez from 20 yards out towards the low post in the 20th minute, diving to his right, and then again eight minutes later off of a free kick from 25 yards out. Bush is still undefeated in MLS Reserve League action going back to last season, with seven wins and one draw, including five shutouts.
“The game was very useful for us to give guys some playing time,” said Impact assistant coach Philippe Eullaffroy, who managed the Impact bench. “We got to see some of our younger players and we created good chances, scoring some pretty goals. Following yesterday’s win with the first team, this has been a very successful weekend for the Impact.”
“We had a great first half but some of the guys haven’t played a full 90 minutes in over four weeks, so we got a little sloppy towards the game’s end,” said Wenger. “I’m trying to work on my runs and have more movement to create some more space and better opportunities.”
Wenger was a force early on. He had a chance in the 5th minute, but his low shot was stopped by Castano on a half breakaway. Then in the 27th minute, the forward used one touch to beat his marker, but his low shot missed just wide left of goal.
In the 42nd minute, Martinez blasted one off the far post from just outside the box, right side of goal.
The second half started off as a battle in midfield for the most part, with the best chance coming off of a long distance shot by Messoudi in the 58th minute that was scooped up by Castano.
Red Bulls midfielder Ruben Bover found some space in the 62nd minute, but his header sailed just over the bar.
The Impact used a 4-4-1-1 formation in the game, with Wenger as the top striker and Academy forward Messoudi in the supporting role. Luarca played the first half in the midfield before dropping back to play left back for the second 45 minutes.
The Impact first team will hit the road to face Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park, on Saturday, March 30, at 8:30pm (ET). The game will be broadcast live on TVA Sports.
MTL – GK- Evan Bush; D- Dennis Iapichino (Anthony Jackson-Hamel* 45’), Amine Meftouh*, Wandrille Lefèvre, Zarek Valentin; M- Blake Smith, Calum Mallace (Felix Cardin* 74’), Collen Warner, Kevin Luarca*; F- Zakaria Messoudi*, Andrew Wenger
Unused subs: GK-Maxime Crepeau
NY – GK-Santiago Castano; D-Kevin Politz, Ian Christianson, Michael Bustamante, Erik Sa; M- Ruben Bover (Ethan Decker 66’), Lloyd Sam (Alex Muyl 80’), Adam Najen, Rafinha; F- Marius Obekop, Josue Martinez (Amando Moreno 73’)
MTL – Wenger (Messoudi) 16’
MTL – Luarca (Warner) 29’
MTL – Smith (Wenger) 83’