Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Impact - Santos 1st leg live blog!


25 February 2009

Olympic Stadium, Montreal, QC
8 pm ET / 7 pm CT / 6 pm PT

Live on CBC Bold and
Other streaming options at rojadirecta and myp2p

It's been a while since I've done of these, so let's hope I still remember how.

Drinking menu: I know I've got beer in the fridge. To fully adopt the Quebec spirit, I should be swilling Molson Export but even I have my limits. And if I need to switch to mixed drinks, I also have a bottle of Maine's finest vodka.

Even I have my limits!

Starting lineups:
  • MONTREAL (4-4-2): Matt Jordan, Adam Braz, Nevio Pizzolitto, Cedric Jocqueviel, Leonardo Di Lorenzo, Joey Gjertsen, David Testo, Sandro Grande, Rocco Placentino, Eduardo Sebrango, Roberto Brown [source]
  • SANTOS: Sanchez, Hernandez, Garcia, Santiago, Mares, Torres, Toledo, Rodriguez, Torres, Benitez, Vuoso

We're all excited about the crowd. Even the TFC blogs are holding up their noses and admitting this is a good thing. I'm not too concerned about a Mexican presence in le Stade, although this recent google search query has me concerned: 'santos laguna official soccer shirt in montreal'.

Confirmed sales are over 50,000, with a sell-out possible.

Gambling? The odds I listed yesterday have shifted, and now most sports books have Santos as the favourite. I've got a handful of bucks down on a draw (now paying at 3.15 at bwin); if I win anything I'll spend it on a domain name for this site.

In case you're already sitting at your computer, compulsively refreshing this page, GET A LIFE! Kickoff isn't for another hour yet, and I've got work to do. I've banged out 2000 words of academic hoop-jumping the last hour, and need to get through another 1000.

The livestreaming feed will kick in at 7:50 ET, while CBC bold (it's a lowercase 'b', apparently) will pick up the broadcast at 8. In the 10 minutes until the feed kicks in, I'm going to grab some supper. No burritos tonight.

Think about it!

OK, so I'm not on the stream yet. I'm a little concerned that no link to the web stream has yet appeared on the CBC sports site, though they are advertising all over the page that the match can be viewed live there. Nothing to get too worked up about, though. There are other options (see above).

Watching right now on Veetle (Fox Soccer Channel). I'll let everybody know when I get a CBC link. Crowd looks to be arriving late, though big already. Handshakes are done with, kickoff in minutes. The Santos lineup is now listed above.

1st minute: 20 seconds in Adam Braz hits his first hopeless high ball forward. Thanks for coming out!

4th minute: Gjertsen cross draws a corner. Sandro Grande is the straw that stirs the drink so far.

5th minute: BONER!! Sebrango and Brown play a little back and forth game against a lax Santos defense, and Sebrango strikes from the top of the 18. 1-0 Impact!

7th minute: Sloppy defending on the other end nearly results in a Santos goal. Foul near the corner flag by the Impact doesn't amount to anything for Santos.

Brief radio silence as I am switching from the annoying FSC brayers to the French CBC. Again, I'll let you know when English CBC gets their technical issues sorted.

10th minute: Jordan makes a "grand arret" on a long through ball to Benitez. Impact need to lock it down defensively.

13th: It's settled in a little bit. The Impact are putting Santos under pressure when they are in possession.

The link is on right now, but I'll stick with French for the 1st half. 18 degrees inside the stadium.

16th: Grande does some more good work in midfield, and the play results in a long ball to Placentino, in a dangerous position. His pass connects to Brown, but his shot attempt is closed down. The Impact broke down the Santos defense fairly easily on that play.

21st: Santos are controlling things right now without creating any chances. Montreal is relying on the counterattack, and occasionally look dangerous.

22nd: Santos can't compete with Montreal in the air. After a throw-in near the corner flag, a cross was headed on by Sebrango to Brown, whose header looped and hit the bar.

24th: Benitez, the lone forward, is Santos' offensive threat. He's physical and fast, and gets onto long balls from the halfway line. His latest work ended with a corner that was cleared.

If you're scoring at home, the Impact have 4 Canadians in their starting XI this year. I don't think they'll be much better than TFC in that regard this season, unless Jordan gets injured.

29th: Vuoso tries to put the pull over the defender's head and go around him, but is fouled instead. Medium-dangerous free kick range, but it is easily handled by Jordan.

31st: Brown had a half chance on a header at the back post. The chance itself wasn't that dangerous, but this Santos defense is pretty questionable.

The Frenchies calling the game are right, I think, to say that Montreal's chances on the counter
have been more numerous than one would have expected.

37th: Whenever Montreal gets into trouble, they are making inch perfect tackles. Jocqueviel especially. Now a corner to Santos after another ball long to Benitez. On one of the rare occasions that Santos wins a header, they put it well over and wide.

The Frenchie announcers are digging on the "Ole" chant, and get in a few shots at Habs fans for their derivative chanting and piped in music.

41st: Brown is flagged for offside on a long ball from Grande. I'm really impressed with Sandro Grande so far tonight. He just hit another perfect 40 year ball to Gjertsen.

44th: Roberto Brown gets a yellow card for a challenge. The card looked a bit harsh, but he'll have to be careful now.

HALF TIME: No added time from the referee, which seems about right. I don't think the Impact could have played much better, which is both positive and worrisome.

Santos have been owning the ball a lot, and you get the sense that a breakdown by Montreal is inevitable. On the other hand, Montreal's chances on the counterattack have been more dangerous than anything Laguna has created.

Don't forget to post your own thoughts in the comments, even if you aren't watching.

I think I'll be sticking with the French CBC for the whole match. They have a nice feature on right now about Matt Jordan, who turned down an MLS move to stay with what he feels is a great organization in Montreal.

I know the game isn't about the crowd, but they were in fine form late in the first half after a tentative start. And it looks big.

46th: One switch for Santos. I didn't catch the names. Now a free kick 30 yards away, straight on goal for Montreal. Placentino strikes and puts it over.

Benitez immediately gets a chance at the other end, but Jordan handles it.

Jordan claims on yet another chance. Again, the Impact are a bit shaky early, just like the first half.

52nd: Benitez runs at two Impact defenders and gets a good shot away, but Jordan saves. I think Benitez will have to get his teammates involved in the offense more for Santos to score.

Testo is giving the ball away a little too cheaply, and after doing so, gives up a free kick 35 yards out. Jordan is forced into a difficult save down low at the post. Corner. Jordan claims.

Grande was the best player for Montreal in the 1st half. Now it's Jordan, which isn't a good sign, necessarily.

58th: If I was John Limniatis, the guys I would think about taking off are Placentino, Brown, and Testo. Just I write this, new acquisition Stephen De Roux comes on for Placentino, who gets a nice hand. De Roux is a speedster, apparently.

60th: Benitez does some nice solo work, but is shut down by Jocqueviel, who has been good. Benitez lays it off, and a long shot goes wide.

63rd: They had a shot of what I believe was the hardcore fans section. Looked good.

A cross took a minor deflection, so Brown couldn't head it properly. He was in a good position. Now it's another free kick from 35 yards for Santos. Gjertsen jumped into it and blocked it, and then Jordan cleaned up another cross.

66th: Santos make another change, Ludena in for one of the guys named Torres. It seems like they are switching their lineup from a B+ to an A team. The new guy will be playing on Adam Braz's side, which is worrisome.

They just announced the attendance, but I wasn't quite listening at that point. Sounded like 55,571. Now Brown is down clutching his face. He took a fist to the jaw, or maybe a chin to the jaw.

69th: Brown tries a bicycle kick in front of Garcia, who was none too pleased about it.

72nd: Now I can die in peace. I've seen everything. Adam FUCKING BRAZ nutmegged a guy, running down the right flank. His cross wasn't great, but they got a corner out of it.

Sebrango gets a head onto a ball from Grande, but it was offside anyway.

75th: The final substitution for Santos. They take off the other Torres, and bring on a tiny dude named Quintero.

Chances at both ends. The first is wasted by Gjertsen, the second is eventually closed down by Jocqueviel and the Pizz, and cleaned up by Jordan.

A total boner, in the both senses of the word. Major cock up between the centre back and the keeper, and Sebrango gets in and heads it over the goalie. 2-0 MONTREAL!!

I'm not a big fan of Brown, but he made that play as well. He's been quietly good today. The crowd is also really into it.

82nd: The first time Jocqueviel has looked bad, he lets a ball through to the Santos striker who shoots into the side netting.

Now Brown is coming off for Felix Brillant. It's the right move, but Brown is also getting a deserved ovation. The minutes can't run off fast enough now.

86th: Brillant is full of running. His job is clearly to run to the corner flag and waste time. De Roux has been useful as well. Santos haven't threatened in the last 5 minutes.

90th: Felix Brillant picks up a yellow card. It's getting a bit hairy now, with 3 minutes of time added on. Now a corner for Santos.

The play-by-play half of this Frenchie team is getting a bit carried away, talking about being CONCACAF champions. Probably popping a boner himself.

90 + 2: Classy and tactical move by Limniatis taking off Sebrango for Peter Byers. Sebrango didn't play in the earlier CONCACAF matches, because he was with Vancouver.

FULL TIME: It's over! 2-0 Montreal

Even I wasn't crazy enough to expect this (I bet on the draw, and lost the farm. Or 3 or 4 euros).

I'll keep my parting shots brief for now, since Top Chef, another of my vices, is on in a few minutes.

Props to:
  • The crowd: Sure, they showed up in numbers. Same with those meaningless Beckham World Tour matches. This sounded and looked like a soccer crowd, particularly the hardcore faction at the one end.
  • Limniatis: Santos may not have been prepared for Montreal, but Limniatis was prepared for Santos. He had the right approach to shutting down the Santos attack (ie: Benitez), and made smart tactical subs.
  • Sebrango: His goals were mostly the result of being in the right place at the right time, but he also did the right thing so many times in the match.
  • Jordan: He was quietly outstanding. Not so quiet even in the second half. If you caught the story of the French Ceeb in the second half, you found out he is a good guy too.
  • Grande: I wouldn't normally suggest a USL-1 guy is deserving of a national team call-up, but who couldn't use a guy who wins balls, is confident on the ball, and makes the right pass. Sure he's slow, but he's sharp.
More to come later, I'm sure. I'm especially interested in the reaction from the Mexican press.

From a Mexican press article, this photo:

This picture needs no translation.

If anyone can give any help with the article, especially those sections that are analysis, and not just reporting the bare facts, that would be swell


Headhunting Canuck said...

Well it's still better than Labatt Crystal, so therefore I approve in drinking it.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think Sebrango hit that... it looked like an own goal.

J said...

I'll have to see it again. I was on the shitty, choppy, Veetle FSC stream at that point with the unlistenable morons. In either case, it was brutal defending by Santos.

Anonymous said...

The analisis culled from the Mediotempo article goes something like this:

Sebrangos surprising early goal set the tone for a match in which the mexican side played without offensive creativity and lacked penetration, leaving forwards Benitez and Vuoso all alone up front.

The Canadian team played a pragmatic game which built on their
advantage in aerial and physical play.

Every passing minute (in the first half)saw the Impact establish themselves more steadily on the field, constantly preventing the Mexicans from playing their style by not letting them come into their half while in full control of the ball, save for a a few early chances from Benitez who was left to fend for himself by his teammates.

By the 50th minute Santos were becoming desperate for the draw and started to over rely on shooting from distance, with little success.

The impact played the game in the way that best suited them: waiting for the Laguneros,pressuring them on the transition and occasionally touching the ball or going for the quick counter-attack, and also looking for aerial play and set pieces to take advantage of their physically imposing players.

Mediotempo describes Sanchez as "immobile and contemplative" on Sebrangos second goal.

They also thought the officials did a good job, making good calls and not letting things get out of hand when tempers flared up.

Hope this helps.