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Juggled offensive front line leads to 2-0 win for Montreal over Chicago

The SportsXchange

Montreal Impact head coach Marco Schallibaum decided to tweak his team's field formation - and it paid off.

Schallibaum opted for two forwards up front - setting up a 4-4-2 layout on the field - and the move produced quality chances for his team in a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday at Saputo Stadium.

Andres Romero and Marco Di Vaio scored for Montreal (5-1-1), snapping its two-game MLS slide and three-game skid overall after Wednesday's loss to Toronto FC in their Amway Canadian Championship match in Toronto.

"We tied our last home game and coming off the result in the middle of the week against Toronto, it was important for us to win this game," said Impact captain Davy Arnaud. "We knew it was going to be tough but it's a very good result for us."

The defeat left Chicago (2-5-1) winless in four road games so far this season.

The visitors had their chances early on when midfielder Patrick Nyarko nearly got them on the board at the 12-minute mark but his deflected shot fell to Impact goalie Troy Perkins. Five minutes later, Jeff Laurentowicz fired directly into Perkins hands.

"I thought we had a good first 20, 25 minutes but we lost possession in the game. We had the opportunity to keep the ball but made bad decisions and we turned it over and I think momentum kind of shifted," Chicago head coach Frank Klopas said.

Montreal picked up its game as the half progressed and finished the opening 45 minutes with 63 percent of possession time.

Two minutes after newcomer Daniele Paponi headed one over the bar, defender Jeb Brovsky nearly broke the scoreless tie with a volley that went just wide of Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson's net in the 29th minute.

Marco Di Vaio, author of the Impact's previous three tallies heading into Saturday's match, nearly had his fourth straight but was denied on Johnson's diving save.

Paponi had another chance in the 38th minute but his shot went just wide.

"Yeah, that Paponi guy's pretty good, huh?" Brovsky said with a smile. "He's great to have up there with Marco. They complement each other very well.

"You could see the chemistry between them already. His head's down and he knows where Marco is all the time. It's just another asset that we can put into our arsenal. I think he did a great job."

The Impact would snap the 0-0 deadlock in the 57th minute. Midfielder Andres Romero worked his way around a Fire defender from the left of the net closer to front-range before delivering a perfect kick past Johnson.

"We created some decent chances (in the first half) and all were missing was the goal. We said in the second half to come out and keep pushing and the goal would come for us and it did," Arnaud said.

A sequence with a flurry of good scoring chances by Montreal in the 64th minute led to a near-melee near the Fire net. Laurentowicz was handed a red card while a visibly furious Johnson and Montreal's Di Vaio were both handed yellow cards.

Di Vaio doubled the Impact's lead in the 76th minute when midfielder Justin Mapp, shortly after substituting in, found the striker in the front of the net. It was Di Vaio's team-leading fourth goal this season. No other player has more than one.

Paponi earned his first MLS point with an assist.

He nearly scored his first goal with his best chance of the afternoon at the 83-minute mark but Johnson was there with a remarkable save to keep it 2-0.

"Every guy that played today you could see that we definitely wanted it," Brovsky said. "We talked about that from the Toronto game and certainly put it into action today."

The Fire, meanwhile, will have to wait before they can try to get back on track.

"It's a long season but obviously with a break next week, it's a long time to think about this one before going into the next game," Klopas said. "We look at some of the mistakes that we made and adjust it in training.

"It wasn't one of our best performances but we've got to move on."

NOTES: Dominant last season at home, the Impact is now 3-0-1 with the home field advantage this season. ... A crowd of 19,773 attended the match. ... The Impact will next face Toronto on Wednesday, in the second half of their Canadian Championship series.
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