|Montreal Impact's Felipe Martins celebrates a goal by teammate Davy Arnaud, right, during the second half of their MLS soccer match against Chicago Fire in Montreal, Quebec. (REUTERS/Christinne Muschi)
MONTREAL - Captain Davy Arnaud scored the first MLS goal in the Montreal Impact’s history but it wasn’t enough for a victory, as the Chicago Fire rallied to earn a 1-1 tie Saturday in the Impact’s first home game in MLS.
The game was played before a crowd of 58,912 at the Olympic Stadium, the largest crowd to watch a soccer game in Canada.
The Fire earned the draw in the 71st minute when Sebastian Grazzini put a ball through to Dominic Oduro in the box. Montreal goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts came out to play the ball but Oduro got his right foot on the ball first and steered it to the corner.
Arnaud, who was acquired in a trade from Sporting Kansas City in November, scored on a header in the 56th minute off a crossing pass from Sanna Nyassi. An 11-year MLS veteran from Nederland, Texas, Arnaud put the ball in the top corner of the net, just beyond the reach of Chicago goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.
“It was a big moment for me and a big moment for the team,” said Arnaud, who celebrated his 44th MLS goal with the fervor of a rookie scoring his first. “(Impact coach Jesse Marsch) told us yesterday that this was one of those moments that come along once in a lifetime and he was right.”
Tornaghi, a 23-year-old Italian youth star who was making his MLS debut, said the injury time added at the end of regulation time provided the most excitement in the game.
Chicago’s Daniel Paladini put a free kick over the crossbar and Montreal’s Josh Gardner hit the wrong side of a post moments later.
“I knew it was going to be close or it was going into the first row of the stands,” said Gardner. “I wouldn’t have done it any differently except kick it a few inches inside the post.”
“I don’t know, I might have gotten a finger on that shot but it was close,” said Tornaghi. “I know that I was very nervous at the beginning when I saw those thousands of people but I was happy with my first game.”
The Impact pressed to regain the lead after Oduro’s goal but Tornaghi came up with saves on Justin Braun in the 75th minute and Nyassi in the 86th minute.
The Impact had the better of the play in the opening half, which ended in a 0-0 draw.
Justin Braun put the ball behind Tornaghi during a scramble in front of the net in the 35th minute but the goal was disallowed because Braun was ruled offside on the play.
The Impact had the only two shots on goal in the first half and also had four corner kicks to none for the visitors.
It was the first game of the season for the Fire while the Impact has a 0-0-1 record.
Notes: Sebastian Grazzini was holding his right arm as he left the game in the 79th minute. He was scheduled for X-rays to determine the extent of the damage. ... The previous Canadian attendance record was 58,542 for a NASL playoff game between the Montreal Manic and the Chicago Sting on Sept. 2, 1981 ... Olympic Stadium and its artificial XL Turf Pro pitch will be the Impact’s home for their first five MLS games as well as the first game in the Canadian championship series. The team will move to the soccer-specific Saputo Stadium for its June 16 game against the Seattle Sounders. The natural-grass facility is being expanded from 13,000 seats to 20,000 seats. ... The Impact is missing key defender Nelson Rivas with a strained left hamstring. The 33-year-old Colombian, who previously played for Inter Milan in the Italian Serie A, is out indefinitely. Steven Kinney is missing from the Fire lineup with tendinitis in his right leg.