Hassoun Camara

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

MLS Snapshots: Impact 2-0 Crew SC; NE Revs 1-1 Toronto FC (videos)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Columbus Crew SC’s slow start to the 2016 season (two points, zero wins from their first five games) continued on Saturday, as the Black and Gold fell in a narrow defeat away to the Eastern Conference-topping (level with Philadelphia Union) Montreal Impact at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Hassoun Camara and Kyle Bekker scored the game’s only goals, giving L’Impact nine points from five games, bested only by FC Dallas, the only MLS side in double digits at the time of final whistle in this one. Between Ignacio Piatti, Harry Shipp, Lucas Ontivero and Dominic Oduro, the Impact have shown to have more than enough quality to navigate their early-season schedule without Didier Drogba, who has played just 20 minutes due to artificial playing surfaces. Beginning next weekend, though, Montreal’s next six games will all be played on real grass.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Week 4 in MLS ]

Three moments that mattered

21′ — Ontivero curls one, smashes the post — Ontivero’s fingerprints were all over this game, as the 21-year-old Argentine so nearly opened his MLS account in the 21st minute. After a poor midfield turnover by Crew SC, Ontivero cut inside on his favored left foot, beating Steve Clark with a curler to the far post, but coming up with only woodwork.

48′ — Camara heads home for 1-0 — Ontivero whipped in the corner kick, and Camara was waiting in the goalmouth to head home with Harrison Afful no match for the big bruiser.

86′ — Bekker heads home for 2-0, seals all three points — Ambroise Oyongo broke down the left side of the Crew SC penalty area and floated a delicate cross to the back post, where Kyle Bekker was waiting to apply the headed finish back across goal and inside the (other) far post.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Lucas Ontivero

Goalscorers: Camara (48′), Bekker (86′)

The game in 100 words (or less): Toronto FC are through five of eight games away from the friendly confines of BMO Field to begin the 2016 season (stadium construction), and have a point per game to show for their continued travels following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution on Saturday. After going a goal down to the Revolution inside the game’s first quarter-hour, Sebastian Giovinco — you expected someone else? — equalized with his third goal just five games into his second MLS season (to go with two assists). With injuries forcing Greg Vanney’s hand, TFC resorted to something of a 4-4-2 with Giovinco playing just off the shoulder of Jozy Altidore, who made his first start of the season (hamstring). It was far from a seamless transition back to last year’s sterling form, but the duo made the difference in the game’s decisive moment anyway.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Week 4 in MLS ]

Three moments that mattered

14′ — Rowe heads home from a gorgeous diagonal for 1-0 — There are speculative balls into the box from which you’re just hoping to cause chaos, and there are balls into the box full of intent with a specific target in mind. Gershon Koffie’s long diagonal was meant to find the head of Rowe at the back post. The finish was better than expected, though.

58′ — Bunbury taken down in the box, no whistle — Teal Bunbury went down under questionable contact from Drew Moor. You make the call, because I’m in no way sure one way or the other.

58′ — Giovinco equalizes on the counter — Every Revs player, to a man, thought they should have been awarded a penalty at one end of the field. Meanwhile, Giovinco and Altidore were busy running to the other end and pulling TFC level, as the latter set up the former to snatch another precious away point.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Kelyn Rowe

Goalscorers: Rowe (14′), Giovinco (58′)

Crimes and misdemeanors: Floppers’ wallets lighter after Disciplinary Committee’s rulings

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There were no big suspensions from Major League Soccer this week, but after a weekend where we saw a couple of high profile dives, the league’s Disciplinary Committee has taken a chunk out of three paychecks. Montréal defender Hassoun Camara and Vancouver’s Sebastian Fernández receive fines for simulation and embellishment, respectively, while young Sporting Kansas City full back Igor Julião was punished for hands to the face of veteran Davy Arnaud on Saturday.

Camara’s incident came late during Montréal’s Saturday win over New England, with Revolution attacker Teal Bunbury left jaw-slackened after receiving a yellow card for apparently running into the back of the defenders’ legs. “Apparently” may be too generous, however, as replays of the incident failed to show any contact. Carrying the ball toward the center line, Camara went to ground in front of Bunbury while his target was pulling up.

The video:

Fernández at least felt something during an incident in Sunday’s Portland-Vancouver game, but exaggerating what little contact there was between himself and Pa Modou Kah, the Uruguayan attacker went to ground as if he’d been struck in the face. Clearly not struck by anything but his own hand, the 24-year-old’s fall near the center line only served to draw the Disciplinary Committee’s attention. Thanks to Fernández’s performance, MLS Works has a little more money in its coffers.

That performance:

For Julião, the offense comes in another on-field dust-up, this one after Kansas City’s 1-0 loss at RFK Stadium. This one falls under the time-honored tradition of a young player getting caught up in the moment. It’s a regular season game, and Sporting only lost by one, but something happened after the final whistle caused the Brazilian to lose his cool.

Making far less month than this week’s other offenders, this fine will hit Julião the hardest. He’s unlikely to make the same mistakes as he gets more minutes under his belt.

That incident:

ProSoccerTalk’s MLS awards choices: Staff picks for Best XI


We continue to roll out our choices for the league’s top defender, top goalkeeper, top rookie, MVP and more:

Today we look at ProSoccerTalk’s writer’s picks for Major League Soccer’s Best XI teams:

Steve Davis’ MLS Best XI (3-4-3):source:

  • GK: Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
  • DF: Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City
  • DF: Jose Goncalves, New England Revolution
  • DF: Chris Klute, Colorado Rapids
  • MF: Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake
  • MF: Will Johnson, Portland Timbers
  • MF: Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders
  • MF: Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers
  • F: Mike Magee, Chicago Fire
  • F: Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
  • F: Marco Di Vaio, Montreal Impact

Richard Farley’s MLS Best XI (4-3-3):source:

  • GK: Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
  • RB: Hassoun Camara, Montréal Impact
  • CB: Aurélien Collin, Sporting Kansas City
  • CB: Jose Goncalves, New England Revolution
  • LB: Chris Klute, Colorado Rapids
  • DM: Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake
  • MF: Will Johnson, Portland Timbers
  • MF: Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers
  • FW Mike Magee, Chicago Fire
  • FW: Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
  • FW: Camilo Sanvezzo, Vancouver Whitecaps

Joe Prince-Wright’s MLS Best XI (4-2-3-1):source:

  • GK: Luis Robles, New York Red Bulls
  • RB: DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders
  • CB: Jose Goncalves, New England Revolution
  • CB: Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City
  • LB: Chris Klute, Colorado Rapids
  • DMF: Will Johnson, Portland Timbers
  • DMF: Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders
  • MF: Mike Magee, Chicago Fire
  • MF: Marco Di Vaio, Montreal Impact
  • MF: Camilo Sanvezzo; Vancouver Whitecaps
  • FW: Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy

Wednesday: Defender of the Year
Thursday: Goalkeeper of the Year
Friday: Rookie of the Year
Monday: Coach of the Y
Tuesday: MLS Most Valuable Player
Wednesday: MLS Best XI

MLS Playoff Focus: Notes on Montreal ahead of Thursday’s meeting with Houston

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Ahead of Thursday’s single elimination playoff between Houston and Montreal, here are the most-knows about the visiting Impact ahead of the 8:30 p.m. ET kickoff (NBCSN):

  • Marco Di Vaio’s special season

The Impact’s last time on the field turned into the hated double bummer; Les Bleus fell to Toronto while watching striker Marco Di Vaio fail to claim the Golden Boot, never mind his sparkling 20-goal season. The 37-year-old striker wandered into final weekend soccer level with Mike Magee for league leadership. Magee scored, Vancouver’s Camilo scored even more and, well … Di Vaio did not.

Still,, what a season. Remember, 20-goal campaigns remain rare in MLS, still a significant benchmark. There were just 10 previous instances through 17 MLS seasons.

  • Alessandro Nesta is out

You could probably make some case that Marco Schallibaum’s team is better without the veteran Italian – although it would be something of a stretch.

Nesta’s foot speed just isn’t what it was previously during all those years at Lazio, Milan and with the Italian national team. (Truly, the man was one of the defensive giants of a land that appreciates defenders like it appreciates carefully crafted pasta.) So, he tends to get exposed when caught one-on-one against younger, faster types.

But again, it’s a case that looks like small noodles to me. Because Nesta’s positioning and anticipation is so good that he’s an expert at avoiding those situations. Plus, neither Houston striker, Will Bruin nor Giles Barnes, is particularly fast.

Besides, a guy with 78 caps for Italy and a World Cup winner’s medal (2006) … yeah, you want him on the field. Nesta is out with a calf injury. Young backup Wandrille Lefevre or possibly outside back Hassoun Camara will be the likely replacement at center back.

  • Backing into the playoffs

Clearly, everyone around camp Les Bleus would feel better about things if the Impact had won last weekend at Toronto, claiming their spot with a winning authority rather than backing in because Chicago got clobbered at Red Bull Arena.

The Impact concluded their second MLS campaign with a 1-0 loss at Canadian rival Toronto.

“We were disappointed,” Hassoun Camara told MLSSoccer.com. “Everyone knows it was an important game for us and we wanted to show that we are a playoff team. It’s hard to deal with that.”

  • Last time in Houston? Not that bad

Yes, the Impact’s recent skid included a 1-0 loss earlier this month at Houston. But this was far from a run-away, and the Impact improved considerably and even pressed Houston at times once Andrew Wenger came in for the final half hour.

Where Montreal lost the game was in midfield, where orange-clad Boniek Garcia, Warren Creavalle and Ricardo Clark were simply better than the visitors’ men in the middle third. Then again, Montreal was missing its main man in the center, Patrice Bernier.

So while the Impact’s 4-9-4 record away from Stade Saputo isn’t anything to shout about, they don’t have the very worst of memories of walking down that ramp at BBVA.

  • Choices in the Impact midfield

There are lots of edges that point to Houston, so it seems important for Les Bleus manager Marco Schallibaum to get his lineup absolutely right. Health and fitness will probably dictate the back line choices, but the Swiss manager does have options in midfield.

Veterans Justin Mapp (who was having a great season prior to the club’s fall dip) and Davy Arnaud look set on the outside. Arnaud is from Texas (not far from Houston, in Nederland), so this contest is extra special to him.

The real choice will be at attacking midfielder, where the decision is pretty much down to Wenger or Felipe Martins. Martins is the more creative and skillful, but he hasn’t been great lately – one of the reasons Montreal was shut out in four of its last five matches. (Then again, no one in Impact blue has done well lately except perhaps for Di Vaio.)

Wenger is more physical, and while the current Dynamo version doesn’t pack the physical punch of past teams in orange, playoff games against Houston will always have a certain bump and grind about them.

(More on MLS playoffs: Previewing Montreal Impact at Houston Dynamo)