This Saturday, Montreal return to BBVA Compass Stadium, where their 2013 season came to a sorry end.
Twenty minutes after Nelson Rivas picked up his second yellow card, Marco Di Vaio and Andres Romero ‘starred’ in a stoppage time kerfuffle and were duly ejected. Noteworthy as three red cards in one game are, it was the skirmish that became the night’s lasting image.
The Impact say it’s off their minds, however, ahead of their first match against the Dynamo since the episode. For a start, none of the dismissed will be there. Rivas only picked up a one-game suspension, but he’s been recuperating at home in Colombia since March 23 and is expected back in Montreal this weekend. Di Vaio – who apologized for his actions last November – and Romero, for their part, conveniently have two more games to serve.
They’ll thus miss a fixture that typically features goals, physical play – and cards. But is this Saturday likely to feature bad blood? Montreal insist that their only target is a first-ever win in Houston.
"I don’t know about bad blood," Justin Mapp told MLSsoccer.com by phone earlier this week. "It’s always a fiercely competed game, as I feel all MLS games are – highly competitive and intense."
"Obviously there was a little incident at the end of last year’s game," Mapp continued. "It didn’t end well for us, with the result. It's a new year, though. You kind of got to let those things go and you just go out there and win a soccer game."
Added assistant coach Mauro Biello: "We must focus on what we have to do and on what we’ve been working on. That’s it."
Biello also believes that Montreal must focus, period, for their season opener against Dallas wasn’t quite as encouraging at the back as it was up front.
Untimely lapses in concentration wrecked Montreal last Saturday, Biello hinted, and such mistakes could lose them points again if Dynamo forward Will Bruin – who scored two goals before Di Vaio and Romero saw red in October – is as quick on the draw as he was last weekend against New England.
"We must, in those moments, be watchful and focus on certain things during the game so that we’re prepared," Biello told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Thursday. "We’re working on that defensively, but there were some good things on Saturday. Yet we struggled to focus at certain times, and that was costly."
Olivier Tremblay covers the Impact on MLSsoccer.com