Impact get over the hump, looking good early on


Montreal Impact's Hassoun Camara celebrates after scoring against the Columbus Crew. (Graham Hughes/CP)

Impact coach Mauro Biello smiled when he was reminded on Saturday of the manner in which his Montreal side had exacted some revenge in its 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew at Olympic Stadium.

It was the first meeting between the two teams since last November’s Eastern Conference semifinals, where two powerful headers from Crew striker Kei Kamara sent the Impact out of the playoffs; and on this occasion, it was the Impact who triumphed through headers of their own.

Early in the second half, Hassoun Camara scored with a perfectly timed leap from a Lucas Ontivero corner kick, and Kyle Bekker sealed the victory four minutes before the end, nodding an Ambroise Oyongo cross into the bottom right corner of the Crew goal.

But there were plenty of other reasons for Biello to be feeling upbeat about his team’s performance.

Impact in first
The win snapped a two-game losing streak and puts the Impact, now 3-2-0, into a tie with the Philadelphia Union for first place in the Eastern Conference. And it’s always a nice feeling to see your team in first.

It’s still early days in the season of course, but with the New York Red Bulls and Columbus looking out of sorts so far (in ten games between them they’ve won only once) and Toronto FC playing their first eight matches on the road, the Impact will have an opportunity to get out in front and create some early separation in the standings.

The win over Columbus also concludes a difficult stretch of five games, which were against five of the best teams in the league. With Didier Drogba, Patrice Bernier and Marco Donadel getting set to return to action, the Impact are only going to get stronger, especially on the attacking end where they’ve sometimes lacked ideas and spark.

Camara comes up big
After an injury ridden 2015 campaign, Hassoun Camara is hoping he can see more regular playing time at right fullback for the Impact this season. And against the Crew, where he put in a man-of-the-match performance, the 30-year-old Frenchman certainly showed that he’s still a valuable asset. Besides the crucial go-ahead goal, Camara was very good defensively, particularly against the Crew’s Justin Meram, and helped bring some width to the Impact going forward as well.

Kamara kept quiet
There were a few lapses in defensive coverage in the first half, but otherwise the Impact were very good at the back once again. After Kamara overwhelmed Montreal with his powerful presence in last year’s playoffs, this time he was marked out of the game by Laurent Ciman and Victor Cabrera, who tightly marked the Sierra Leone native. Even if Ciman and Cabrera might not be the tallest centre backs, they can still make things difficult for forwards to get a clean header on the ball by marking them very closely.

Eric Alexander and Kyle Bekker also helped contribute to the clean sheet, the team’s second of the season, with their tracking in front of the back four. Though they might not be able to deliver quality passes forward in the way that Donadel or Bernier could, they do bring a lot of volume and endeavor to the midfield, helping retrieve possession on numerous occasions.

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