SANDY, Utah – The Montreal Impact (0-4-1) lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake (4-1-0) at Rio Tinto Stadium, Wednesday, in front of 20,191 supporters in Sandy, Utah. Forward Paulo Junior scored the only goal of the game on a penalty kick in the 13th minute.
Paulo Junior beat Impact goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts low to his left side. An off balance Justin Braun was called for a hand ball in the box after battling with a Real Salt Lake player. This was the third penalty conceded by the Impact in as many games.
FINAL: RSL 1, MTL 0
“The penalty shots against has become completely infuriating,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch. “I felt that we were a real team on the field today. We battled for each other and we played some really good soccer in a place that is hard to play in on the road. It hurts us all because the results are not going our way, but we are getting closer and closer. There is such a strong belief in what we are doing here, and we are going to get over that hump very soon.”
Real Salt Lake held a slight edge in shots 15-14, as well as in ball possession at 52-48%.
Impact goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts notably robbed forward Fabian Espindola on three separate occasions. The first came in the 11th minute, when his shot was stopped point blank by a diving Ricketts with his legs. Then again in the 41st minute when Ricketts came charging out to scoop up the ball as Espindola was dribbling the ball into the box. The last came off of a free-kick in the 66th minute, when the Argentinean’s header, which was destined for the bottom-right corner, was again stopped by the outstretched left hand of Ricketts, diving backwards.
“A penalty kick is always in favour of the shooter,” said Ricketts. “You just have to try and guess which way he’s going, sometimes you get it, and sometimes you don’t. But we can’t hang our heads. We wanted a result today. We have to come out to play each and every day. It’s a work in progress, but we are confident.”
A curling free kick to the far post by RSL’s captain Kyle Beckerman in the 29th minute, from about 25 yards out down the right side of the field, was redirected in mid-air by defender Chris Schuler with his left-foot, but the resulting deflection grazed the top of the crossbar.
In the 56th minute, midfielder Justin Mapp, making a run down the left flank, put a cross near the penalty spot for Davy Arnaud, where RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando just managed to get a fingertip on it.
The Impact, in an attempt to equalize, put a lot of pressure on RSL in the game’s final minutes, earning two corner kicks, and creating a scoring chance with shot by midfielder Justin Mapp, who controlled the ball from a feeble clearing attempt, that just missed low short side.
The Impact played the final 10 minutes with three defenders as forward Andrew Wenger entered the game for defender Jeb Brovsky.
Brovsky made his return to the starting lineup following an automatic one-game suspension as the result of a red card, forcing him to miss the match versus the Red Bulls last Saturday.
Jamaican defender Shavar Thomas, as well as midfielders Lamar Neagle and Collen Warner, all made their first start for the Impact this season. Warner played his former team for the first time since being acquired by the Impact in the 2011 Expansion Draft last November.
“It was nice to see the guys from last year, but once you step on the field, you’re enemies,” said Warner. “We put up a good fight. It’s been tough with penalty shot calls, but we can’t use those as excuses. We have to take responsibility for all goals scored against us and work on that.”
With a fourth win in five games this season, Real Salt Lake is now alone in first atop of the Western Conference standings.
Next game at noon
The team will return to Montreal Thursday for a matchup this Saturday against its Canadian rivals, Toronto FC, at Olympic Stadium. Kick off was changed from 1pm to 12pm (ET). The stadium doors will open at 10 am, while the ticket office will open at 9am.
The organization invites all supporters to join La Garde to “Defend the North”, as some 1,000 Toronto FC supporters will invade the stands for this matchup. Season tickets are still available online at impactmontreal.com or by calling 514-328-3668 while individual for all games presented at the Olympic Stadium are also available through the Admission network.
MTL – GK - Donovan Ricketts; D – Jeb Brovsky (Andrew Wenger 83’), Shavar Thomas, Matteo Ferrari, Josh Gardner; M – Lamar Neagle (Sanna Nyassi 63’), Collen Warner, Felipe, Justin Mapp; F – Davy Arnaud, Justin Braun (Bernardo Corradi 76’)
*Unused Subs: GK – Greg Sutton; D – Tyson Wahl; M – Patrice Bernier, Sinisa Ubiparipovic
RSL – GK – Nick Rimando ; D – Terakazu Tanaka, Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran; M – Will Johnson, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil (Javier Morales 64’), Jonny Steele (Ned Grabavoy 63’) ; F – Paulo Junior (Alvaro Saborio 77’), Fabian Espindola
*Unused Subs: GK – Kyle Renish; D – Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; M – Yordany Alvarez
RSL – Paulo Junior 13’ (PK)
MTL – Felipe 80’