Impact down Whitecaps in 3-2 season opener

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VANCOUVER – Ignacio Piatti scored twice as the Montreal Impact defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 in the Major League Soccer season opener for both clubs on Sunday.

Dominic Oduro had the other goal for Impact (1-0-0).

Jordan Harvey and Kendall Waston replied for the Whitecaps (0-1-0).

Piatti put Montreal ahead in the 19th minute when he dribbled through Vancouver’s defence with ease and fired a shot past Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted.

Vancouver nearly got even when Octavio Rivero hit the crossbar seconds after the restart before Impact ‘keeper Evan Bush stopped the Whitecaps striker on another good chance 10 minutes later after a ball over the top from Pedro Morales.

Montreal survived that flurry and went up 2-0 in the 42nd on another defensive breakdown from the Whitecaps when Piatti played a ball forward from the halfway line for Oduro that Ousted charged out of his net to meet.

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But instead of booting the ball to safety, the ‘keeper completely whiffed with Waston also in the area to hand Oduro the Impact’s second in front of a stunned sellout crowd of 22,120 at B.C. Place Stadium.

Montreal then took a turn making a defensive miscue in the 45th minute to let Vancouver back in the game when a wide-open Harvey got on the end of a Morales free kick to cut the deficit to 2-1 at the break.

Impact substitute Anthony Jackson-Hamel nearly put things out of reach in the 60th, but his shot hit the post behind Ousted, and Piatti’s follow up flashed wide.

Bush then thwarted Rivero again with a spectacular diving stop on the Uruguayan in the 68th that had the Montreal ‘keeper at full stretch.

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Bush was at it again in the 75th on a Whitecaps corner, pushing a Waston header over the crossbar.

Vancouver continued to press, but the Impact caught them on the counter attack in the 87th minute when Piatti took a feed from Oduro and beat Ousted to the far post for his second of the afternoon.

Waston added a consolation goal for the home side off a corner in stoppage time to round out the scoring.

The Whitecaps finished second in the Western Conference last season before losing out to the Portland Timbers over two legs in the second round of the playoffs.

The Impact, meanwhile, were bounced at the same stage in the East by the Columbus Crew.

Montreal striker Didier Drogba didn’t make the trip with his teammates for Sunday’s match because of the artificial turf, which is not kind on his 37-year-old knees.

Drogba will probably also miss the Impact’s home opener next weekend against the New York Red Bulls at the Olympic Stadium.

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