Two Eastern Conference clubs are generating lots of March chatter around MLS, but for very different reasons.
The Montreal Impact’s impressive 4-0 start has to be the surprise story of the young MLS season. The Impact did well as an expansion team last year, but nothing like this.
The team’s 1-0 victory Saturday over the New York Red Bulls is just the latest evidence. Patrice Bernier (pictured) was exceptional once again, providing a wonderful assist on Marco Di Vaio’s second goal of the young season. Bernier’s early ball out of midfield caught New York’s center backs just a little bit asleep, and it looked like the balls Shalrie Joseph once played with an early menace out of New England’s midfield when he was the league’s top central midfielder.
The Impact shutout, by the way, came without veteran center back Alessando Nesta, who wasn’t quite ready to start after last week’s injury. So the team isn’t even at its best. The fans around Montreal have certainly noticed something going on; the Impact’s two home matches have combined to draw almost 65,000 this year.
Saturday’s draw might have been even better but for Thierry Henry’s injury absence. That was just more bad news for Mike Petke’s side, now winless in four matches of 2013 – hardly the way the Red Bulls’ popular rookie manager wanted to launch his head coaching career.
New York did have opportunities in this one; Henry’s finishing was sorely missed on a couple of instances.
More on Petke around the corner at ProSoccerTalk; for now, here are Saturday’s highlights: