Three goals in the second half powered the Montreal Impact to a 3-1 win over division rivals the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Goals by Nevio Pizzolitto, Patrice Bernier and Ze Roberto in a span of 12 minutes allowed the Impact to overcome a 1-0 first half deficit. Michael Apple had the only goal for Pittsburgh. The game was the second in a home and away weekend series, the teams having tied 1-1 in Pittsburgh the previous night.
The Impact had a very tentative first half content to lob long crosses into the box and hope for the best. The Riverhounds defenders easily cleared most of these. An attempted shot by Impact midfielder Nick De Santis in the 9th minute from 50 yards out was well wide. Jason Di Tullio attempted the same shot from just inside the box but sent the ball 15 feet over the bar. In all the Impact had 12 shots in the half but most of these were from far out and were stopped with ease by Riverhounds goalkeeper Randy Dedini. At the other end, Impact keeper Greg Sutton was not too busy but had to make a save on a shot by Joey Worthen in the 12th minute. Worthen blasted a low hard drive from 30 yards out and Sutton just got a hand on it to deflect it out of harm's way. Five minutes later Apple got the Riverhounds on the board when he redirected a corner kick past Sutton with a nifty waist high side-volley. Pittsburgh 1 Montreal 0.
In the 22nd minute, Montreal almost equalized when Bernier sent a great pass to Impact captain Mauro Biello in the box but the striker ran out of room before he could shoot. Biello was sent in again two minutes later but his shot was weak and went wide. The Impact had very few chances until De Santis shot the ball over the bar in injury time.
The Impact came out flying in the second half. In the 49th minute, Biello stripped a ball off a Pittsburgh defender and was in alone on Dedini but his shot was deflected over the bar. On the ensuing corner Nevio Pizzolitto headed the ball into the top right hand corner to tie the game. Pittsburgh 1 Montreal 1.
The Impact kept pressing and in the 59th minute Bernier, accepting a pass from Patrick Leduc from 12 feet out, shot a low drive into the bottom right corner of the net to put Montreal ahead. Montreal 2 Pittsburgh 1.
The goal frenzy was not over. Just two minutes later, Roberto was fed a soft pass by Leduc and wormed his way past two Riverhound defenders before shooting the ball under Dedini's arm and into the net. Montreal 3 Pittsburgh 1.
The Riverhounds attempted to make something happen but the Impact defenders simply closed the door. Pittsburgh's best chance came in the 73rd minute when forward Jeff Houser sent a bullet from the edge of the box that Sutton juggled but stopped. Not content to sit on a two-goal lead, the Impact continued pressing in the dying moments of the game. Late substitute Rocco Placentino sent a low hard shot, which Dedini smothered.
After the game, Impact coach Bob Lilley commented on the fact that this was his team's second game in as many days and said, "The energy was quite good but it helps to be deep. We looked the fresher team." On his players' strong play in the second half he said," We wore down the Pittsburgh back four." He also praised the work of Patrice Bernier and Patrick Leduc, who assisted on all three goals. Ze Roberto when asked about his team's sudden turnaround simply said, "In the second half, everybody worked together."
The Impact come away from this two game series with six points and will vault ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings. They will next meet the expansion Calgary Storm on Sunday June 16th in Montreal.
Montreal: 1 Greg Sutton (GK), 5 Nevio Pizzolitto, 7 Nicola Corneli (sub. 14 Drew Kopp 76th minute), 8 Gabriel Gervais, 13 Lloyd Barker, 3 Jason Di Tullio, 4 Nick De Santis (sub. 12 Eduardo Sebrango 69th minute), 10 Ze Roberto, 17 Patrice Bernier (sub. 18 Rocco Placentino 86th minute), 20 Mauro Biello (captain) (sub. 2 Adam Braz 78th minute). Substitutes not used: 22 Paul Shepherd (GK), 6 Mark Rowland, 21 Giuliano Oliviero.
Pittsburgh: 0 Randy Dedini (GK), 8 Mari Gori, 12 Michael Green, 11 Brian Johnson (captain), 14 Matt Chulis, 6 Joey Worthen, 21 Derek Potteiger, 20 Jaman Tripoli (sub. 4 Gary De Palma 62nd minute), 16 Kevin Alvero (sub. 9 Jeff Houser 62nd minute), 2 Phil Karn (sub. 13 David Flavius 46th minute), 10 Michael Apple (sub. 19 Ali Ngon 66th minute). Substitutes not used: 23 T.J. Hanning (GK), 22 Ben Garry, 18 Chuck Kim.
Cautions: Dedini (Pitt. 45th minute), Green (Pitt. 66th minute), Di Tulio (Mtl. 75th minute).
Goals: Apple (Pitt. 17th minute), Pizzolitto (Mtl. 49th minute), Bernier (Mtl. 59th minute), Roberto (Mtl. 61st minute).
Attendance: 2, 861
Conditions: Warm with a few clouds.