Impact look to bounce back from miserable MLS opener in San Jose

Impact look to put bad first game behind them

MONTREAL — Defender Hassoun Camara won’t make a fuss about being ejected from the Montreal Impact’s season-opening game in San Jose, even if it means he will have to sit out the team’s home opener.

Camara was sent off after being shown the yellow card for the second time 66 minutes into a 1-0 defeat in what was a poor effort all around against the Earthquakes on Saturday night.

The calls may have been iffy, but they weren’t the difference as Sean Jose controlled most of the play and had an 18-5 shot advantage, including 4-0 in shots on target. The score could easily have been 3-0 or 4-0 had the Earthquakes been sharper around the goal.

“I’m very frustrated,” Camara said Tuesday. “The referee came to me, I’ve known him for a lot of years, and he almost apologized because he felt that he went a little bit strong for the first game and the first yellow card that I took.

“But I said to him there’s no problem because it’s like this and I have to accept it. I would love to play in front of our fans. It would have been crazy. But I have to accept it.”

The Impact’s home opener comes this Saturday night against the MLS champion Seattle Sounders at Olympic Stadium. So far about 32,000 tickets have been sold. Seattle opened with a 2-1 loss in Houston.

Camara, usually a right back, started the match in the central defence when Victor Cabrera came down with a hip ailment a day before the match.

The Argentine ran on the sidelines during a long practice session and coach Mauro Biello was optimistic he will be ready for the home opener. Reserve centreback Wandrille Lefevre sat out the opener with a concussion but was back at practice.

Chris Duvall, who replaced Camara on the right side, and backup goalie Maxime Crepeau were also out with a stomach bug, while midfielder Andres Romero has a hamstring issue.

But the possibility of being left thin on defence was less of a concern than the way the Impact came apart under pressure from San Jose and took to lofting long balls down the field instead of building attacks from the back.

Anibal Godoy’s clever chip for a goal in the 17th minute after a mixup between Camara and Patrice Bernier put them in a hole early on. When Camara was sent off, any hope for a comeback was dashed.

“We sort of got out of the game plan,” said Biello. “Then they got that early goal.

“Then the frustration started to mount and they got us out of our game a bit. We kind of corrected that at half time and started well and then we got the red card and the game changed. In the end, it’s about focusing on the task and getting back because that way you have 11 guys on the same page. Not let emotions take over the game and then you have 11 guys on a different page.”

The Impact reached the Eastern Conference finals last season playing a counter-attacking game in which they absorbed pressure and tried to beat opponents on quick strikes.

This season, they’ve worked on keeping possession and moving the ball up the field to try to spend more time in the other team’s end.

None of that was evident in San Jose.

“We worked on certain things for six weeks in pre-season and then we got on the field and we didn’t apply those things,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “We talked about building out of the back a bit more, being comfortable with pressure.

“The first goal kick comes and our guys start pushing up the field instead of inviting them to come at us a bit, opening up spaces. We talked about dictating the game with our possession and we didn’t do that. When you don’t do that, things break down and you lose your shape and everything kind of snowballs.”

A surprise was Biello’s choice of second-half substitutes. Teenage prospect Ballou Tabla went in for forward Dominic Oduro, newcomer Daniel Levitz replaced Bernier and rookie forward Nick De Puy went in for Hernan Bernardello. De Puy showed a finishing touch in the pre-season and Biello said he has moved ahead of academy product Anthony Jackson-Hamel on the depth chart.

The coach said getting the youngsters some minutes now could pay off when they are needed at a later date.

They also have a chance on the Big O artificial surface against Seattle to put the San Jose game behind them.

“It was the first game of the season, it wasn’t good, we didn’t perform very well,” said Bush. “If you go in and start throwing chairs around and yelling at guys it sets the tone for the season.

“I don’t think we’re at that point yet. As poor as the performance was as a team, we still had a chance to maybe sneak out with a point. If it stayed 1-0 and we get a cheap goal, we get a point out of it and we feel a bit different.”

Biello said recently signed midfielder Adrian Arregui should have his transfer papers completed this week and be available for the game.

 

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press