PETRASSO GM

Petrasso shines in win over Rowdies

Montreal Impact remain perfect in preseason

With three wins in three preseason games so far for the Montreal Impact, things are looking up. The Bleu-blanc-noir’s latest conquest was on Saturday night, against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, when goals from Saphir Taïder and Ignacio Piatti gave Montreal a 2-1 win. After the game however, most eyes were on right-back Michael Petrasso.

“The two goals were basically his in the end,” said midfielder Saphir Taïder. “He was the one who determined the action. He crossed it and all I had to do was get on the end of it. He did the bulk of the important work on the second goal as well. It’s almost a brace for him.”

It was Michael Petrasso’s cross that found Taïder in the box for the first goal, and his hard work on the flank that allowed him to escape a hoard of Rowdies players and feed the ball to the Algerian international in the middle, ultimately leading to the Impact’s second goal, and the eventual game-winner.

For Petrasso, this preseason is the first time he experiences MLS-calibre soccer, having just joined the Impact this offseason after having spent the past few years playing in England. Although Rémi Garde wasn’t too familiar with the defender, he knew he had certain qualities that would help him in MLS.

“I watched a lot of video of Michael, and what I loved was his temperament,” explained head coach Rémi Garde. “When you play four, five years in England, you need to have a lot of character to stay there for that long, and he shows it on the field.”

Lots of character, but ultimately a reserved person off the pitch. He saves the bulk of what he has to say for his opponents.

“That’s where he does his talking a lot, on the pitch,” said winger and roommate Raheem Edwards. “He’s a very, very quiet guy, but on the pitch he’s very aggressive and that’s what we need on our team.”

Tale of two halves

The Impact allowed its first goal from open play this preseason, during the second half of Saturday night’s game, the only other goal it conceded coming off a set-piece against the Chicago Fire. Although the Impact still held on for the win, keeping a clean sheet is an important factor for the players and the coaching staff.

“We’ll watch their goal and see how they scored, because keeping clean sheets is key for us, and that’s what the manager is looking at,” explained Michael Petrasso. “We’ll work on that and see what we can change. We came out for the second and started a bit slow, so I think we need to come out a little faster and stronger, especially since we were up by one. That’s the moment they come back in the game and get a lot of confidence, if you come out a bit slow.”

“We were a little less serene in our play, and we had less control over what we wanted to do,” explained Garde. “Our opponents were a lot more aggressive this time around and won a few more duels. We seemed a little less comfortable physically. I ask a lot from my players, but that’s my job, and I keep telling the players that winning games isn’t easy. All in all, there’s still satisfaction in having won the game, but there’s still work to do.”

The Impact will have a chance to test its progress in that department as soon as Wednesday, when they play the Philadelphia Union at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex as part of the Rowdies Suncoast Invitational. The game will be broadcast online at impactmontreal.com.

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