Montreal Impact News Release – www.montrealimpact.com
Thursday, October 1, 2009
MONTREAL, QC — Two goals in the first half allowed the Montreal Impact (5th) to earn a 2-1 win (halftime 2-1) against the Puerto Rico Islanders (3rd) Thursday night, in front of 9,835 spectators at Saputo Stadium, in the first match of the USL First Division semifinal round.
Tony Donatelli opened the score at the 8th minute of play. On a free kick situation, Donatelli unleashed a low, well placed shot 25 meters out from the middle, which traveled to the right of the Islanders wall and goalkeeper Bill Gaudette. This was Donatelli’s second goal in the playoffs.
Roberto Brown scored the insurance goal for Montreal at the 20th minute. After breaking in on defender Scott Jones near the goal line, forward Peter Byers crossed for Brown. The Panamean forward headed the ball from the edge of the six-yard area in the top corner, to the left of Gaudette.
The Islanders narrowed the lead to one goal at the 31st minute when midfielder Jonathan Steele recovered the ball in the middle and then fired a powerful shot 35 meters out to the left of goalkeeper Matt Jordan.
Jordan tied the team record of six playoff wins held by Paolo Ceccarelli. Jordan notably stood out at the 24th minute by saving a strike from Nicholas Addlery with a well calculated dive to his left.
“We wanted to head to Puerto Rico with a win and that’s what we did tonight,” analysed assistant coach Andrea Di Pietrantonio, who was at the helm of the team in replacement of Impact head coach Marc Dos Santos, who served an automatic one-match suspension tonight, following his ejection in the game against Charleston. “We were expecting a very physical match this evening and we responded well. The rhythm changed in the second half. They started putting more pressure on us, but we managed to contain them and obtain scoring chances.”
“We did what we had to do and we went for the win,” noted defender Nevio Pizzolitto, who earned a 25th start with the Impact in the playoffs. “Puerto Rico is a good and solid team. They put a lot of pressure on us, but we worked as a unit from beginning to end and we took the lead in the series.”
“We knew that it was going to be a physical and tough match, but we gave a good performance,” mentioned midfielder Patrick Leduc. “We could have slowed down with a two-goal advance, but we remained focused. We capitalized on their poor start while being aware that what was coming up was going to be difficult. It’s positive for the team to leave for Puerto Rico with a win and a one-point lead.”
With this third consecutive win in the playoffs, the Impact ended a five-match winless sequence against its Caribbean rivals.
Midfielder Joey Gjertsen and team captain Mauro Biello were not available for the match, as they are both currently nursing lower body injuries.
Elsewhere in the league, the Portland Timbers, the regular season champions, are facing in the other semifinal series the Vancouver Whitecaps (7th), at 10:30 pm, at Swangard Stadium, in Burnaby.
The Impact will play the second and decisive match of the aggregate goal semifinal series Sunday at 6 pm at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon (radio-canada.ca/sports, USLlive.com, CKAC Sports, THE TEAM 990).
85th minute – Midfielder Patrick Leduc unleashed a powerful strike from 35 meters out that went to the right of the Islanders goal.
90th minute – After accepting a pass from Islanders forward Fabrice Noel, Jonathan Steele, who was on the right flank, took a shot inside the 18-yard box that Matt Jordan stopped with both hands after diving to the ground.