In front of a sellout Saputo Stadium crowd of over 13,000, the Montreal Impact showed their fans and the rest of USSF D2 that they are serious about claiming a playoff spot, downing their rivals, the Rochester Rhinos, 2-0 Friday night. The Rhinos still lead the USL Conference with a 14-6-6 record, while Montreal wins its second in a row and climbs to 8-10-7 and solidifies their hold on third place in the NASL Conference.
Canadian international Ali Gerba, who set an Impact record last week with the franchise’s first hat trick, set another record Friday night, scoring the earliest goal in Montreal soccer history. Gerba, the well-travelled forward, deflected a cross from midfielder Leonardo Di Lorenzo from six yards out after 18 seconds had elapsed in the game, to beat Rochester goalkeeper Neil Kitson. In the 81st minute, Gerba struck again, doubling Montreal’s lead with a low shot from an Antonio Ribeiro pass for his fifth goal in two games. Gerba said afterwards that “this win tonight was due to a solid team effort. We were a united team and we were able to take advantage of our opportunities. We have to continue working hard during training and this will help us get to the playoffs.”
The Impact outshot the Rhinos, 14-9, although Rochester dominated in corner kicks, 8-3. Matt Jordan earned his fourth clean sheet of the season for the Impact, and second in a row, as Montreal are in sixth place in the USSF D2 playoff picture, two points ahead of Puerto Rico. The Impact get a bit of rest before taking on the Islanders on Wednesday, September 8 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
“We played a good game tonight,” said Impact head coach Marc Dos Santos. “We implemented the game principles that we practiced over and over again in training. We were ready, we were disciplined tactically, we defended set pieces and counter attacks well. Now, we must remain humble and continue with the same intensity because we still have a lot of work to do.”
Don’t cry for Rochester. Bob Lilley’s club has already clinched a playoff spot for the 15th consecutive season, on the strength of their six game winning streak. With only four games left on their regular season schedule, the Rhinos get to rest and recuperate before hosting FC Tampa Bay at Marina Auto Stadium on Saturday, September 11.
Montreal Starting Lineup: Jordan, Pizzolitto, Braz, Billy, Aaboubou, Testo, Ribeiro, Donatelli, Di Lorenzo, Gerba, Sebrango Subs Used: LeGall, Agourram, Mayard, Leduc
Rochester Staring Lineup: Kitson, Sanfillipo, Roberts, Pitchkolan, Greenfield, Bellamy, Rosenlund, Motagalvan, Franks, Spicer, Kissi Subs Used; Hoxie, Heins, Ferdinand, Hamilton