Next game on Wednesday, February 14, against Chicago Fire
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – The Montreal Impact started its sequence of preseason games on the right foot, beating Las Vegas Lights FC 2-0 on Saturday night at Cashman Field. Michael Salazar and an own goal provided the victory for the visitors.
“The playing conditions were very difficult, especially for the team that had the ball,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “I would have liked us to be a little bit better when we were on the ball, in the way we used it, but it was tough to inject speed in our play because the ball would not roll properly. The result is important, but the content and the way we wanted to get that result also were of interest to me. The team responded very well. I think that defensively, we worked well, we were patient and we built this win. We were very rarely put in difficult situations and we could have opened the score earlier by being more efficient.”
Difficult conditions but defensive solidity
In a baseball stadium modified to host a soccer pitch, the Bleu-blanc-noir offered a solid performance in all aspects of play. In the first half, the hosts were never able to really test Evan Bush and the best opportunities went Montreal’s way, but Raheem Edwards, Jeisson Vargas, Saphir Taïder or Nacho Piatti could not beat Lights goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño, who took it upon himself to entertain the crowd.
“We cannot underestimate anybody, especially when we play at their stadium,” said Bush. “The clean sheet is a nice way to end the game. We played well defensively against a difficult team to face. We were patient and we found the goals we deserved. When we had the ball, we mixed it up and I could find the center backs, but also the full-backs and even the wingers. We could have scored more, but the surface was not helping.”
Impact pounces on mistakes
In the second half, immediately after a wave of substitutions that saw seven new Impact players enter the fold, in the 64th minute, Víctor Cabrera sent a long ball towards Gabriel Balbinotti. Goalkeeper Ferriño came off his line to clear, but could only hit Michael Salazar with the ball, who had the simple task of beating a retreating defender to give his team the lead.
“The coach always tells us that when we come on the field, we have to make an impact,” said Salazar. “That’s what we did. We saw that they were often playing the negative ball to the goalkeeper and that he liked to dribble. We caught him three times for two goals and a red card.”
A few moments later, the Bleu-blanc-noir put the pressure on, as Las Vegas had a throw-in deep in its own zone. The ball fell at Mathieu Choinière’s feet, and he sent a low cross from the right wing towards the far post. Ferriño cleared with his foot, directly on his center back, and the ball went right in the goal.
As play restarted in the 68th minute, the Lights FC goalkeeper made his last mistake of the game. Coming out of his box to retrieve a clearance, he tried to dribble past David Choinière and Balbinotti, but slipped. Choinière took over and Ferriño had no choice but to bring him down with his hand, earning a red card in the process.
The Impact will play a total of five preseason games, including two against USL clubs. After its stay in Vegas, the Montreal squad will fly to Florida, where it will face the Chicago Fire on Wednesday, February 14, at 7pm at IMG Academy, the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, February 17 at 7:30pm at Al Lang Stadium, the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, February 21 at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex and finally, New York City FC on Saturday, February 24 at 5pm at Al Lang Stadium.
The team will kick off its season with two games on the road, in Vancouver and Columbus, before playing its home opener on Saturday, March 17, at 3pm, at Olympic Stadium, against Canadian rival Toronto FC.
MTL – GK-Evan Bush (Clément Diop 46’); D-Michael Petrasso (Chris Duvall 63’), Zakaria Diallo (Clément Bahiya* 79’), Víctor Cabrera (Thomas Meilleur-Giguère 79’), Daniel Lovitz (Jukka Raitala 63’); M-Saphir Taïder (Marco Donadel 63’), Ken Krolicki^ (Shamit Shome 63’), Raheem Edwards (David Choinière 46’), Jeisson Vargas (Mathieu Choinière* 63’), Ignacio Piatti (Michael Salazar 63’); F-Matteo Mancosu (Gabriel Balbinotti* 63’)
Subs not used – James Pantemis, Daniel Kinumbe*, Dominic Oduro
*Montreal Impact Academy player
^Player on trial
LV – GK-Ricardo Ferriño; D-Joel Huiqui, Miguel Garduño, Marcelo Alatorre, Juan Herrera; M-Alexander Mendoza, Julian Portugal, Carlos Alvarez; F-Juan Calderon, Isaac Diaz, Gerardo Lugo
Subs – Freddy Adu, Angel Alvarez, Zak Drake, Juan Carlos Garcia, Cristian Gonzalez, Jorge Guillen, Adolfo Guzman, Oscar Hernandez, Sebastien Hernandez, Christian Herrera, Marco Cesar Jaime, Anuar Kanan, Andres Muñiz, Samuel Ochoa, Matt Thomas, Christian Torres
MTL – Salazar 64’
LV – Own goal 66’
LV – Huiqui 19’
MTL – Mancosu 39’
MTL – Lovitz 41’
LV – Mendoza 43’
MTL – D. Choinière 77’
LV – Ferriño 68’