The Montreal Impact took a red card and conceded a penalty kick in the first 30 minutes of a 2-0 loss against the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

Little wonder, then, that the expansion Impact remains winless.

Milovan Mirosevic and Olman Vargas scored for Columbus in the victory over Montreal, which has scored only once in its first 270 minutes of Major League Soccer.

"There is frustration, for obvious reasons," said Impact coach Jesse Marsch. "But even with 10 men I thought we still were playing well and creating chances."

Impact right back Jeb Brovsky was ejected in the 19th minute for an elbow to the head of Crew forward Mirosevic during an aerial challenge.

It was a harsh consequence for a duel in which Brovsky did not appear to intentionally raise or throw his elbow. It prompted Marsch to shake his head before he gave a dismissive wave to referee Mark Geiger.

"There is nothing to be said," Marsch said of the red card and a penalty that followed. "There is no point in stating the obvious."

The Crew (1-1) took a first-half lead when Mirosevic converted a penalty kick after bruising Crew striker Emilio Renteria bulled his way into the penalty area and was taken down from behind by a leg whip from Impact midfielder Felipe Martins in the 28th minute.

Geiger blew his whistle and pointed to the penalty spot, drawing an animated argument from Martins and Impact forward Sanna Nyassi.

Nyassi was cautioned before Mirosevic sent a right-footed blast to the left corner as Impact keeper Donovan Ricketts dove the opposite way.

Marsch made two substitutions to start the second half. Collen Warner made his season debut for Montreal when he replaced midfielder Patrice Bernier. Marsch also took Nyassi off in favour of Bernardo Corradi.

The subs freshened a lineup facing another taxing half of playing with 10 men.

"This league can be brutal," Impact midfielder Justin Mapp said. "It's a tough start for us. But it's a long season. You just have to keep going."

The Crew, a playoff qualifier in the past four seasons, scored again in the 66th minute when Vargas leaped above Impact midfielder Tyson Wahl and headed in a pinpoint cross from Shaun Francis.

Ricketts kept the margin at two goals with a diving, fingertip save on a header by Crew defender Chad Marshall in the 76th minute. Ricketts made seven saves.

"Donovan showed tonight why he is one of the premier goalies in this league," Marsch said. He came up big. He's been sharp in training and made some good saves."

Mapp nearly tied the score at 1-1 in the 42nd minute but sent a rocket from 35 yards off the cross bar.

The Impact (0-2-1) pressed for a goal in the opening minutes and had several good looks at the net of Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum.

Gruenebaum snatched the ball off the foot of sliding striker Justin Braun in the eighth minute and saved back-to-back shots by Nyassi in the 16th.

But the ejection of Brovsky moments later slowed the attack.

"Even after the red card and the penalty I thought we maintained our composure," Impact defender Josh Gardner said. "It's unfortunate that those two calls changed the outcome of the game."