MONTREAL – There's no stopping the Montreal Impact these days.
The 2012 expansion side won their fifth straight league match and moved to within a point of D.C. United for the fifth and final playoff spot in the East with a 3-0 victory over United in front of a sell-out crowd on a hot Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo.
Designated Player Marco Di Vaio netted his third goal of the season on a classy finish and captain Patrice Bernier netted a brace after the break to secure the victory over a D.C. team which decided to rest reigning league MVP Dwayne De Rosario and leading scorer Chris Pontius during the first half.
Although D.C. United (40 points from 25 matches) have three games in hand on Montreal, the Impact are now breathing down their neck with 39 points from 28 games.
Di Vaio registered the breakthrough in the 24th minute on his fouth attempt at beating the DC offside trap. He timed his run perfectly to latch onto Bernier’s through pass, before curling it into the top right corner of goalkeeper Bill Hamid’s net.
It was a harsh turn of events for the visitors who started strong and set the pace early on with pressure applied by midfielder Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa. But they could not trouble Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
Montreal doubled their lead soon after the break, when DC defender Emiliano Dudar was adjudged to have fouled Impact midfielder Collen Warner with a shoulder charge in the penalty box. Bernier’s sixth conversion of the season kept Montreal’s record from the spot intact, as they are a perfect nine-for-nine from the spot.
DC manager Ben Olsen then called to his bench, making three subs in quick succession to bring on Branko Boskovic, Pontius and De Rosario. Keeping the ball became more of a struggle for Montreal as United piled on the pressure.
The match could have been in for an interesting finish, but Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins made an impressive save on Saragosa in the 78th minute. Then Bernier put on a deadly dribble move to beat defender Brandon McDonald in the box before finishing with the help of a deflection for the 3-0 final.
Montreal will hit the road next Saturday as they face the Columbus Crew in Ohio. D.C. United, for their part, will get only three days’ rest before they host the New York Red Bulls at RFK Stadium on Wednesday.
D.C. United returns home on Wednesday, August 29 when Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls come to town - PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE
Lineups and boxscore (MLSsoccer.com)
Opta Chalkboard (MLSsoccer.com)