MONTREAL - Marco Di Vaio supplied the offence as the Impact defeated D.C. United 2-1 Saturday night at Saputo Stadium, but the victory was overshadowed by an ugly incident which led to the expulsion of Impact coach Marco Schallibaum and his United counterpart Ben Olsen.
The two became involved in a shouting match after a sideline collision between the Impact's Justin Mapp and United's James Riley as they went to play a ball in the air in the 75th minute. Riley went over the top and appeared to push Mapp toward a stationary TV camera.
"It was a very, very dangerous play," an emotional Schallibaum said at his postgame press conference. "I left my zone but I was concerned about my player."
"I don't think there was any malicious intent," said Mapp. "I hit the edge of the (scorer's) table and then I went into the camera. I have a scrape on my thigh but I wasn't seriously hurt."
Captain Patrice Bernier, assistant coach Mauro Biello and team manager Adam Braz all attempted to restrain Schallibaum but referee Ismail Elfath handed Riley a yellow card and sent both coaches to the locker room.
Schallibaum has been suspended three times this season and seemed resigned to a fourth ban although he insisted: "It's not fair."
When calm was restored, the Impact was caught sleeping and a defensive lapse allowed Luis Silva to find reserve Conor Doyle inside the box. Doyle beat Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins with a perfectly placed shot to the far top corner in the 81st minute to tie the game at 1-1.
"We played a strong first half but the second half, well, it's a good thing we have Marco Di Vaio," Bernier said.
Di Vaio, who opened the scoring in the 43rd minute, put the Impact back on top when he scored the winner in the 83rd minute. His goal was nearly identical to Doyle's as he took a long pass from Bernier, stepped around defender Dejan Jakovic and found the far top corner.
"When D.C. United scored the goal to tie it, I was sad," said Di Vaio. "I missed a couple of chances, one in the first half and one in the second, Either one of those goals would have made it 2-0 for us (and) we could have breathed a little easier. But thankfully, I was lucky in the end to get one and help the team get the three points."
The goals were Di Vaio's first since July 3 and he has 13 this season.
He wasn't the only player to shake out of a funk as the Impact snapped a two-game losing streak. Felipe was creative throughout the game but his best play came when he didn't touch the ball. He played a dummy on Di Vaio's opening goal. He had two defenders marking him in the box when he allowed Mapp's pass to go through his legs and on to Di Vaio.
"In the first half, we were dangerous but we managed to get just one goal," Schallibaum said. "Thankfully, Marco hit his second goal. Overall, I thought we played a really good game. We put a lot of pressure on the wings with Justin Mapp and Andres Romero. We played well defensively as it's not an easy game against D.C. United. They are a very smart team."
"This was a big win for us and for our confidence," Bernier said. "The standings are very tight and I'm not sure where we are now but we needed those three points."
It was only the second win in its last nine games (2-4-3) but the Impact moved into third place in the MLS Eastern Division with 38 points, one back of Sporting KC and New York Red Bulls. The Impact has one game in hand on Sporting KC and two on the Red Bulls.
The Impact is back home Saturday for a game against the Houston Dynamo but Monday the team leaves for Guatemala where it plays CD Heredia in a CONCACAF Champions League game Wednesday (10 p.m., Sportsnet, TVA).
Notes: The game attracted 20,801 fans including Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Kris Letang. It was the second sellout crowd this season . . .
The game produced six yellow cards, including one to Di Vaio, who was cautioned for excessive celebration as he took off his shirt after the winning goal. Romero and Bernier also received yellow cards for the Impact while Riley, Dwayne De Rosario and John Thorrington were booked for United.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
Forward Marco Di Vaio of the Montreal Impact fires a ball past Dejan Jakovic of D.C. United to score his second goal of the game in an MLS soccer game at Saputo Stadium in Montreal Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013. It was the game-winning goal.
Photograph by: John Kenney, THE GAZETTE