The Fire came in to Montréal on Saturday with a full realization that they were up for one of their largest tests of the young season, and the Impact rallied in front of their home crowd to move into the Eastern Conference’s first seed.
The Fire held their own in the first half, with possession going both ways, but the second half was another story as the game began to unravel with Andrés Romero’s first MLS strike in the fifty-seventh minute of play.
Things would not get much better for the road side as Jeff Larentowicz was handed a – very questionable – sixty-third minute red card just outside of the Chicago penalty area. The MLS may very well overturn the call before the May 11th home game against the Philadelphia Union – a match the red card means Larentowicz would be ineligible to play in – but the damage was already done in this match. Yellow card cautions would be handed out to both Chicago’s Sean Johnson and Montréal’s Marco Di Vaio just a minute later. Di Vaio would get the last laugh though, as a Fire defensive lapse and a delayed reaction from Johnson were capitalized upon as Di Vaio planted the ball in the lower corner of the net on a slow roller.
While the Fire were only out-shot sixteen to eleven in the match, the second half was much less even, as indicated by the 2-0 score in favor of the Impact. The Impact completed 463 passes in the game to the Fire’s 277, and did so with more accuracy, completing eighty-one of their passes to Chicago’s seventy-two percent. Even more lopsided was the possession in the second half that moved the game statistics to a much less even 61.7% to 38.3% mark in favor of Montréal.
With the victory, the Impact de Montréal move into the first seed in the Eastern Conference with a two point lead over the New York Red Bulls – who have played in three more matches – and Sporting Kansas City. With the loss, the Fire actually moved ahead of Toronto FC and into the seventh spot in the East, two points behind the Columbus Crew for sixth and four behind the Philadelphia Union for the fifth and final playoff spot. Both Columbus and Philadelphia have a game at hand over the Fire, as Columbus plays host to D.C. United and Philadelphia is at New England on Saturday.
The Fire have a bye week, so their next match will not be until May 11th, when they will host the Philadelphia Union at 12:30 PM CDT. The match will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.
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