ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The Montreal Impact concluded its preseason with a 0-0 tie in its fourth and last preseason game in the Rowdies Suncoast Invitational against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, this Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium, in St. Petersburg.
“We were able to get players to play 90 minutes,” said Impact head coach Mauro Biello. “We played a tough game tonight, which is good because we wanted it to be difficult. For us, everything is a learning experience, and now it’s about going back home to get ready and focus on all the details in our preparation for Vancouver.”
Goalkeeper Evan Bush made the first highlights in the 13th minute, when he just got his fingertips to a header by defender Justin Chavez on a free kick from 40 meters out.
“There was a 20 to 30-minute stretch in that first half when we created five or six chances,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “Their goalkeeper made some good saves. Keeping a clean sheet was the most important thing for us tonight.”
“Tampa Bay did everything they could to make life difficult for us,” said midfielder Harry Shipp. “It was a good exercise for us, going into the regular season. We’re more comfortable now than we were two weeks ago.”
Lucas Ontivero nearly opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, but his free kick from 25 meters out struck the crossbar. The young Argentinean had drawn the foul himself as he raced down the middle toward the goal.
Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens excelled in the latter part of the first half as he stopped two shots in quick succession, including a fierce Nacho Piatti strike from close range.
Didier Drogba, in his first preseason game, had two fine scoring opportunities just before halftime: in the 44th minute, when Marco Donadel fed him the ball near the edge of the area on a free kick, and a minute later, when Pickens dived to stop Drogba’s header.
In the 71st minute, goalkeeper Michael Langer, who had come on for Pickens at halftime, made a last-second stop, diving to push defender Donny Toia’s curler away.
The Impact ended the game with 10 players following Marco Donadel’s ejection due to his second caution in the 82nd minute.
The Montreal Impact plays its 2016 home opener on Saturday, March 12, at 4pm ET (TVA Sports) at the Olympic Stadium against reigning regular season champions New York Red Bulls. Excellent tickets for this game are available on impactmontreal.com. On the previous Sunday, March 6, Montreal plays Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place, at 5:30pm ET (RDS, TSN).
MTL – G-Evan Bush; D-Donny Toia, Victor Cabrera, Laurent Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo; M-Marco Donadel, Lucas Ontivero (Johan Venegas 46’), Eric Alexander, Harry Shipp, Ignacio Piatti; F-Didier Drogba (Dominic Oduro 46’)
TB – G-Matt Pickens (Michael Langer 46’); D-Darnell King, Justin Chavez, Frankie Sanfilippo, Zac Portillos (Ben Sweat 83’); M-Juan Guerra (Keith Savage 46’), Michael Nanchoff (Jeremy Hall 73’), Eric Avila, Kalif Alhassan (Jeff Michaud 90’), Walter Ramirez (Junior Burgos 46’); F-Tommy Heinemann (Danny Mwanga 70’)
MTL – Donadel 12’
MTL – Cabrera 45’
MTL – Venegas 77’
MTL – Donadel 82’ (second caution)