By VINCE MADURI
ORLANDO, Fla.– The Montreal Impact did enough to book their place in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic final, but not before enduring a physical battle in a 1-1 draw vs. D.C. United.
Andrea Pisanu and Kyle Porter scored the goals in a testy clash of Eastern Conference foes.
The Impact will meet the Columbus Crew in the final next weekend after Columbus posted a 3-2 victory against a fiesty Orlando City side. Federico Higuain stole the show for the Crew, setting up two goals before scoring a goal of his own, while USL PRO side Orlando City registered a goal by MLS alum Jamie Watson to go with a Glauber own goal.
The Philadelphia Union posted the most resounding result of the day, registering a 3-0 victory against Toronto FC. Antoine Hoppenot, Roger Torres and trialist Matt Kassel recorded the goals for the Union.
Sporting Kansas City closed out proceedings on Saturday by registering a 1-0 victory against a tough Tampa Bay Rowdies side. Graham Zusi provided the winner in the second half to help Sporting KC avoid the upset.
Here is a closer look at all of Saturday’s Disney Pro Soccer Classic matches:
MONTREAL IMPACT AND D.C. UNITED DRAW 1-1
The match-up between D.C. and Montreal was the most physical of the day, as the referee issued three yellow cards and 31 fouls. Scuffles after the whistle were prevalent. Andrea Pisanu opened the scoring with a volley bicycle kick that wowed the crowd in the 16th minute and D.C. rarely looked like leveling the game before the subs came in. At that point, new acquisition Rafael brought a cross down in the box and laid the ball off to trialist Kyle Porter who fired in the tying goal.
With the draw, Montreal advances to the final against Columbus next Saturday, February 23. The Impact do so looking like they have the potential to play much better than they have, which is a credit to their overall potential. Montreal are glued to a counterattack system that looked very good at times but the team has struggled to break teams down when they are on the front foot. Felipe has played the role of sole creator in those situations and Marco Di Vaio has finished chances well when given the opportunity but the Impact will need another guy to show he has the ability to create chances, easing the weight of that task off of Felipe a bit.
Montreal don’t need to play proactively all the time, but if the Impact can develop the ability to play proactively when they need to, opponents will need to respect it and won’t be able to sit back and challenge Montreal to break them down, thus not allowing the Impact into the counterattack system they seem so comfortable in.
As for D.C., Rafael had terrific movement and energy, culminating in setting up the tying goal in the 85th minute. Leonard Pajoy struggled to get onto any meaningful attacking passes for the second game in a row and that has to leave some people itching to see what Rafael can do with De Rosario, Pontius and DeLeon around him.
Trialist Kyle Porter also looked good, and that was before he scored a goal. The midfielder has a good frame and showed quickness and energy through his cameo as a substitute in the 76th minute.
UNION CRUISE PAST TORONTO FC
Toronto’s defense finally failed them and the result was a 3-0 loss to a Philadelphia team largely playing their second team players.
Antoine Hoppenot opened the scoring in the 8th minute after dribbling by several Toronto players and firing into the top of the goal. Roger Torres followed up with a similar spark of brilliance in the 40th minute and Matt Kassell finished the damage in the 51st minute.
Toronto had great team defense through the first two days of the tournament, losing only 1-0 to a Columbus team who have looked like the best team in Orlando right now and beating hometown Orlando City on day two displaying a physical, defensive style. The Reds are going to live and die by how well they play defensively. If Toronto doesn’t defend well, more results like this could occur.
CREW BEAT ORLANDO CITY IN DRAMATIC GOAL-FEST
In by far the most entertaining game of the day, Columbus defeated Orlando City 3-2 late and in dramatic fashion. Agustin Viana opened the scoring in the 3rd minute off a Federico Higuain free kick. Both teams were drawn into several physical battles and scuffles all around the field before Orlando City drew level in the 57th minute with a goal from midfielder Jamie Watson.
Higuain picked up his second assist when Josh Williams put the Crew ahead again on a corner in the 74th minute, only for Orlando to draw level again five minutes later when Glauber deflected the ball into his own net unluckily.
Finally, Higuain put the Crew ahead for good on a penalty kick in the 89th minute.
Columbus has looked like the best team in the tournament. Setting up in a 4-2-3-1, the Crew have been able to keep possession for long spurts in all three games, as well as unleash deadly counterattacks with Oduro’s speed on the right side. Federico Higuain looks to be entering the year in spectacular form and this looks like a team that can play with both industry and flair when they need to.
SPORTING KC BEAT ROWDIES 1-0
Sporting won 1-0 against the Rowdies but did not show well in the process. Tampa Bay had been beaten 4-0 and 4-1 in the first two games and Sporting had great possession and passing numbers through their first two games, which in theory had set this one up to be a dominating Kansas City victory. However, the passing was just a bit off in Saturday’s match and Tampa Bay’s defense did just enough to close down on Sporting well and not allow much space in the attacking third.
Graham Zusi had another moment of brilliance dribbling by the Rowdies defense and scoring in the 76th minute to clinch the victory.
Overall, Sporting Kansas City has looked good in Orlando. Benny Feilhaber has fit in very well in the attack and Claudio Bieler has had good energy and movement, showing he can be an integral part of the Kansas City attack this year.