Had Marvell Wynne scampered down the right-hand side and unleashed a bending, dipping, swerving scorcher of a shot on Saturday, then I doubt whether I’d have been surprised. It was that kind of night.
Marv hasn’t scored a goal since October 11, 2008 when with Toronto FC, but he would’ve been in good company had he ended that barren run against the Impact, after watching both Kamani Hill and Shane O’Neill register.
It was Hill’s first goal since October 27, 2012 (pictured right), and O’Neill’s first goal ever in MLS (below right). Add to that a brace for Dillon Powers, as he got on the scoresheet for the first time in 2014.
Now, I’ll say this; Montreal are a struggling side, but did themselves few favors at the weekend in attempting to take the game to the Rapids. It’s a brave, some may say foolish, team which attacks the Rapids at altitude. Teams which have had success have sat and soaked up pressure, crowding the midfield. Of course, it didn’t help that the Impact conceded a penalty in the opening four minutes, duly dispatched by Powers.
Was it a penalty? It took me by surprise when the referee pointed to the spot, but then I was following the subsequent shot from Dillon Serna. The replay suggested contact was made with Edson Buddle, and if you’re going to place your hand on the back of an opposing player, then you’re asking the ref to make a call. Not the wisest thing to do.
From that opening goal, the Canadian side were chasing the game and, although they carved open the Rapids defense on a few occasions, a combination of poor finishing and alert keeping kept them at bay.
By the time they did find the net, they were already 3-0 down, and the ‘goal’ was ruled out for offside. It was a shocking decision by the match officials, and yet taken on the chin by an Impact side that had seemingly had the wind knocked out of them by two glorious goals. Match officials in MLS cannot be making such basic errors. Chris Klute was playing Issey Nakajima-Farran onside by at least two yards, and was the right side for the linesman, who did not seem to have his line of sight impaired.
There are periods when the soccer gods seem to have it in for your team. Montreal fans may feel now is their time in the dog-house, highlighted by that call on Saturday which was the equivalent of a toe-punt betwixt the legs, connecting full-on with the crown jewels.
I was absolutely delighted to see Hill’s delightful goal beat Troy Perkins. The Rapids man goes about his business, usually with a smile on his face, and that fantastic strike against the Impact was richly deserved. Next, I would’ve paid good money to have seen the look on the face of O’Neill’s grandfather, sat at a computer in his daughter’s house in Ireland, and watching his grandson hit a peach of a shot for his maiden MLS goal.
And then Powers added his second (pictured right) with a swift turn after good work from substitute Marlon Hairston, who again looked eager to please when he came on.
The one disappointment, which I know was felt by the team, was conceding a late goal. Andres Romero should not have been allowed to make the ground he did. A shutout would have been the cherry on the cake, but Romero’s consolation again showed that at this level – even when so far adrift – teams will keep coming back at you until that final whistle.
And so it’s to the next home game, against Houston Dynamo this coming Sunday. The main blow is that Buddle will not play a part. His wise marshalling of Deshorn Brown is invaluable for the young striker, but momentum gained from this rout over the Impact must be bottled and put to good use when the Dynamo come to town.
Scoring early opened up the game, which supports the need to take the game to the opposition from the first whistle. Boss the opening exchanges and seek that early advantage, forcing the visitors to alter their game-plan and emerge from their shell.
Of course, that’s not always possible. Teams are not going to gift penalties in the opening minutes and this Dynamo team – though their recent results of been something of a mixed bag – possess greater quality than Montreal. And, clearly, one swallow does not a summer make, but that victory over the Impact, off the back of two disappointing losses, is priceless. There’s renewed belief, swagger, confidence and momentum. Mix in all of the above, simmer under the clear, Colorado skies and flambé with fans of a Rapids persuasion.
Ingredients for success? Maybe, for so much of this sport is about more than just ability.