USLLIVE.COM—Before a midweek crowd of 11,173 at Montreal's Saputo Stadium, the Carolina RailHawks conceded an early goal when the Impact's Leonardo Di Lorenzo, unmarked inside the 18, took a cross from Adam Braz (the same Adam Braz who notched a similar assist against the RailHawks Sunday) and fired a shot past Eric Reed.
The second-half action was quite lively—players dropped left and right, pushing and shoving occasionally supplanted the kicking and running and, most strikingly, the RailHawks' mild-mannered young coach Martin Rennie was sent off in the 68th minute for a water bottle kick.
The departure of Rennie seemed to energize his team. The final 20 minutes were a succession of furious assaults on the Impact goal—which was well-tended by Matt Jordan, who finished with three saves against eight Carolina shots. In a game that grew more violent as it approached the end, there were eight cautions; after Nevio Pizzolitto was shown a second yellow, the Impact were down to 10 men in injury time. The closest the RailHawks came to an equalizer was a Daniel Paladini rocket from distance that clanged off the right post in stoppage play. Stat box here. Match report here.
After the whistle blew, the scuffling continued as the Montreal-based USLLive.com commentators continued their game-long complaints about RailHawks thuggery and, more plausibly, weak-kneed officiating.
I wrote down some of the comments:
With respect to a non-call in the penalty box for Impact. "There are no courageous officials in this league... they get overwhelmed in the moment... The moon has to get full and then it has to land on the earth before a penalty will get called in this league."
"The level of refereeing is not up to level of play in this league. The level of play has gone up every year but the refereeing has not kept up."
"The refs have done a poor job of officiating this game."
With respect to a stoppage-time RailHawks corner kick that they felt should have been an Impact goal kick: "If the [RailHawks] score because of this the officials should just keep running [after they blow the whistle]."
However, the officiating, bad as it was, wasn't the only poor display last night. The USLLive.com broadcast was awful—I saw complaints among the RailHawks tweeples, and my own feed restarted three times in the first half. In fact, I saw di Lorenzo's goal three times.
There was also the quality and bias of the Montreal's commentary. I didn't catch the names of the two gents, but they made a number of unwarranted cracks about individual RailHawks—about their fitness and their purported belligerence. It may be too much to expect the individual USL-1 clubs to supply first-rate, nonpartisan commentators, and to a certain extent, the relentless homer-ism on USLLive.com broadcasts can be infuriatingly entertaining. But, one wonders if the job could be done by several highly informed experts who know all the teams and coaches thoroughly (and know how to pronounce their names) and could call them either live or from a remote studio (any Ray Hudson fans out there?).
In fairness, last night's commentators did offer the following measure of respect in their assessment of the game's importance to the Impact: "This game is Montreal's first victory this season over a quality side, by which I mean the four teams in the upper echelon: Portland, Puerto Rico, Charleston and Carolina."
The RailHawks remain in second place with three games to go, but both Puerto Rico and Charleston have games in hand just below them in the table.
In other news, John Cunliffe, who was named to the USL-1 team of the week, also snagged "goal of the week." In truth, both of his goals—against Miami and against Montreal on Sunday—were dazzlers, but I really like the one chosen by the USL: his gorgeous strike against Miami for the second goal in that 9-0 rout. See it for yourself at the 1:50 mark below, or visit USLLive.com and click on "goals of the week."