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Montreal’s Sunday Win Eliminates FC Tampa Bay and Miami FC from Playoff Contention

The Montreal Impact scored a great win Sunday afternoon over FC Tampa Bay in front of a sold-out crowd at Saputo Stadium.  By defeating FC Tampa Bay 3-0, the Impact not only solidified their spot  in the USSF D2 playoff picture, but mathematically eliminated FC Tampa Bay and Miami FC from post-season play.  Only one team currently outside the eight-place playoff structure, AC St. Louis, now has even a chance of making the playoffs, and most likely the St. Louis club would have to win its three remaining matches to have a chance of sneaking into the playoff format in 2010.

Ali Gerba Strikes Again

The expansion FC Tampa Bay Rowdies came to Montreal absolutely needing a result, but were undone by the Impact, and forward Ali Gerba, rather quickly.  A foul by Rowdies’ goalkeeper Josh Lambo resulted in a Montreal penalty kick, and Tony Donatelli converted in the 10th minute of the game to give the Impact a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, to the delight of the 13,024 fans in attendance.  Donatelli’s goal with his seventh of the season.

Marc Dos Santos’ Impact club added another goal late in the first half.  Ali Gerba, who’s scored seven goals in the team’s last four games, found himself on the end of a Leonardo di Lorenzo corner kick in first half stoppage time, and his bicycle kick beat Lambo to double Montreal’s lead.

Rowdies Coach Paul Dalglish brought in forward Aaron King and midfielder Mozzesh Gyorio to help generate some offense early in the second half, but the changes didn’t help the Rowdies get on the scoreboard.  Gerba iced the game with his ninth goal of the season in the 82nd minute, with French defender Richard Pelletier gaining the assist.   Gerba has given Montreal a huge boost in goal-scoring, as his nine goals have come in the space of the last five games, and in the one match he was held scoreless, he assisted on Montreal’s only score.  Montreal goalkeeper Matt Jordan recorded yet another clean sheet since returning from injury.  The Impact have won four of their last five contests, raising their record to 10-11-7 and basically turning their season around  after a rather indifferent first four months.  Only a total collapse in their two final two games coupled with an AC St. Louis clean sweep of its remaining three matches could keep Montreal out of the 2010 playoff picture.

Montreal’s win also eliminated the faint mathematical hopes for playoff glory of FC Tampa Bay, Miami FC and Crystal Palace Baltimore.   As Montreal captain Nezio Pizzolitto stated after the game, “It was important for us to win today’s game to keep control of our destiny.  Defensively, we were very organized. We have become a tough team to beat once we score the first goal. We have come a long way over the last two months and we must continue in the same direction.”

Notes:  Rowdies defender Yendry Diaz suffered a 38th minute leg injury and was replaced by Julian Valentin.  Sunday’s match was Montreal’s eighth sellout of the season.

Montreal Starting Lineup:  Jordan, Pizzolitto, Braz, Billy, Aaboubou, Testo, Ribeiro, Donatelli, DiLorenzo, Sebrango, Gerba  Subs Used:  LeGall, Terminesi, Pelletier, Placentino, LeDuc

FC Tampa Bay Starting Lineup:  Lambo, Valentino, Morrow, Diaz, Steele, Millen, Sanchez, Christie, Adjeman-Pamboe, Wheeler, Galindo  Subs Used:  Valentin,  Gyorio, King, Tan

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