“This was the result we were looking for as we managed to score two and concede none,” explained assistant coach Mauro Biello, who ran the bench for IMFC as head coach Frank Klopas was serving a one game suspension following his ejection in the decisive game against Pachuca back on March 3. “The players followed the game plan and we were tight defensively, giving away few scoring chances. We are very pleased with the result.”
“It’s a great result we got today and we put ourselves in a great position,” said Nigel Reo-Coker. “If you look at our performance today, I think we now have the confidence for when we play in Costa Rica. We need to have the same approach, the same attitude, the same commitment as a team and the same work rate.”
Just 10 minutes into the game, rookie Cameron Porter was involved in some more Champions League magic as Dominc Oduro fed a ball from the right flank into the box near the penalty spot. Porter then ran onto the ball diagonally and played a back heel towards Nacho Piatti, who cut inside before hammering the ball off the crossbar and in short side.
“I was waiting for the cross,” explained Piatti. “I didn’t think Porter was going to let the ball pass. When I got the ball, I controlled it and my shot was able to go in. It was a relief for me to be able to score as I haven’t scored in a while.”
Four minutes later, another rookie found glory as defender Victor Cabrera scored his first career goal as a pro when he got on to the end of a loose ball in the box and slotted it home off of a Marco Donadel corner kick.
Piatti had a strong first half, using quick feet to change direction, finding a good chance from in close in the 12th minute before firing one from distance in the 18th minute, both of which were just off target.
Porter made his presence felt early on when he chased a ball down the left flank, beating his marker, and used a move to drag the ball along the goal line before playing to Oduro in close. Then again in the 34th minute, a Laurent Ciman free-kick squeaked through the wall, but Porter couldn’t get all of the ball on his poke attempt.
With the two goal lead, the bleu-blanc-noir shut the door in the second half, allowing few opportunities, while still managing to press with Piatti and Oduro on the counter attack.
With the win, the Impact is still undefeated at home in Champions League with a 8-0-3 record.
The decisive game of the series in Costa Rica will be played on Tuesday, April 7 at 10pm ET (TVA Sports, Sportsnet, TSN Radio 690).
Meanwhile, the team’s next game will be on the road this Saturday, at 3pm against the New England Revolution (TVA Sports, TSN 690). The following Saturday, March 28, will be the team’s MLS home opener against expansion side Orlando City SC and international superstar Kaka.
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Victor Cabrera, Bakary Soumare, Laurent Ciman, Donny Toia; M-Nigel Reo-Coker, Marco Donadel (Calum Mallace 62’), Dominic Oduro, Ignacio Piatti (Patrice Bernier 76’), Dilly Duka (Maxim Tissot 46’); F-Cameron Porter
Subs not used: GK-Kristian Nicht; D-Hassoun Camara; M-Blake Smith; F-Jack McInerney
LDA – GK-Dexter Lewis, D-Jose Salvatierra, Johnny Acosta, Porfirio Lopez, Ariel Soto; M-Kenner Gutierrez, Johan Venegas, Ariel Rodriguez, Ronald Matarrita (Pablo Gabas 65’); F-Jonathan McDonald (Diego Calvo 54’), Jose Ortiz (Alvaro Sanchez 74’)
Subs not used: Alfonso Quesada, Elias Palma, Alejandro Aguilar, Yvanilton de Almeida Costa
MTL – Piatti (Oduro) 9’
MTL – Cabrera (Donadel) 14’
LDA – Gutierrez 32’
LDA – Lopez 36’
MTL – Soumare 59’
LDA – Soto 68’