While much of the Major League Soccer fan base focused its attentions on Portland, Montréal and New York continued to pile on to what promises to be a goal-filled weekend. Yet after two goals from each side at Olympic Stadium, a pair of teams that made last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs remain winless, even if the 2-2 draw could be seen as a positive one for Mike Petke’s much-changed side.
Petke was without Tim Cahill and Richard Eckersley, both sidelined with injuries. To prevent Thierry Henry and Jámison Olave from incurring the same, Petke rested the two veteran stars, New York continuing to be electively hamstrung whenever they venture off natural grass. With Dax McCarty benched while Bobby Convey, Péguy Luyindula and Eric Alexander claimed places in the middle, the Red Bulls looked more like the team that was blowout in week one (if set up slightly differently) than the club that’s claimed three draws since.
Five minutes into the game, the play began to look like opening week, with Andres Romero’s precision converting a brilliant Felipe through ball to give the Impact an early lead. At the half-hour mark, however, poor fullback play from both Heath Pearce and rookie Eric Miller allowed Lloyd Sam to hit Jonny Steele for a far post finish. When a suicide ball from Marco Di Vaio gave Steele a chance to set up Luyindula, New York went into halftime up 2-1.
Two minutes into the second half, Di Vaio’s countryman gave New York another gift, with Matteo Ferrari fouling Bradley Wright-Phillips near the spot. Luyindula nailed the right upright, however, sparing the Impact a second embarrassing goal.
In the 59th minute, the match’s scoring was done, with a run from Felipe that was unnoticed by New York’s three-man middle producing the Impact’s tying goal. Sprinting onto the end of a Justin Mapp cross, the Impact creator finished a long distance give-and-go into the left of goal, giving Montréal its second straight draw.
In our mid-week Power Rankings, we had these teams ranked #16 (Montréal) and #18, an evaluation that seemed to play out over an initial, superficial viewing. With points of talent sprinkled throughout both sides, it was no surprise each team was able to take advantage of mistakes. It was also no surprise those mistakes helped define the match.
Petke, however, can live with those mistakes, given the limitations he had when selecting his team. In that light, today’s point looks like a scrappy one. Montréal, however, saw their best chance to break into the win column compromised in the first half. They’re now 0-3-2 on the season.