In front of a record-setting Montreal soccer crowd of 58,912, the Chicago Fire used Dominic Oduro’s 71stminute goal to earn a point on the road in the MLS Opening of Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec.
Opening their fourth MLS stadium in three years, the Men in Red began its 15th season as guests to MLS’ 19th team. Fire head coach Frank Klopas trotted out 10 of the Fire’s returning 11 starters from the 2011 team that finished 7-2-1. The notable exception in Klopas’ first kick XI was 23-year-old former Inter Milan youth goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.
The Italian goalkeeper was first called into action in the 18th minute when Sanna Nyassi squared a ball to Justin Braun all alone just inside the penalty area. The Impact forward smashed a shot forcing Tornaghi to dive and palm the ball over the crossbar. After considerable back-and-forth, the first interval finished deadlocked 0-0.
The Impact crowd got what they’d been cheering for in the 56th minute when Sanna Nyassi tracked a ball at the edge of the 18-yard box. The Gambian forward chipped a looping cross that Montreal captain Davy Arnaud met mid-step and headed over the hand of an outstretched Tornaghi to give the Impact its first goal as an MLS side.
Trailing with 20 minutes left to play, and the partisan Impact crowd echoing throughout The Big O, the Fire found its equalizer. Patrick Nyarko picked up the ball on the left side before finding a seam and slotting a pass to Sebastian Grazzini. The Argentine playmaker, with his back to goal, turned and lofted a pass over the defense where Oduro did well to extend his boot and poke the ball past Impact ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts in the 71st minute.
In the waning moments of the match, Montreal nearly gave the raucous home fans their first victory. A loose ball bounced to the feet of Impact defender Josh Gardner who hammered a driven effort destined for the far post, but Tornaghi was equal to it, deflecting the shot to ricochet off the far post seconds before the final whistle sounded.