Coming hot off the news that they had qualified for the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, the Montreal Impact turned their focus back to the MLS last night in Columbus. With the Impact now officially eliminated from the MLS playoff race, the remaining four games will be a chance for Frank Klopas to try out some new things on the pitch.
With the Columbus Crew in the middle of a tight playoff race, this was a must win game for them, and it did not take long for the Crew to strike. Ethan Finlay scored in the 2' minute of play after Will Trapp slipped a well placed pass between Maxim Tissot and Jeremy Gagnon-Laparé. Finlay released a rocket of a shot from a tight angle, catching Bush, Tissot and Gagnon-Laparé off guard, making it 1-0.
Both teams traded jabs in the remaining forty-three minutes of the first half with Columbus generating more chances than the Impact and controlling the run of play. The first half also demonstrated what an Impact newcomer Nacho Piatti has had on the team. When Piatti does not play Montreal is a completely different team on the field.
In the 58' minute Columbus iced the game after Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare brought a Crew player down off the ball in the box. The referee judged the infraction severe enough to show Gagnon-Lapare a yellow card and award the Crew a penalty. Federico Higuain stepped up and scored, making the score 2-0.
Frank Klopas was ejected from the game after protesting the call.
The Impact were awarded a penalty very late in the game after Crew player Tyson Wahl brought down Canadian International Issey Nakajima-Farran in the box. However, the night did not even end on a positive note for Montreal as Marco Di Vaio's penalty attempt was stopped by Columbus keeper Steve Clark.
Columbus came into this game very focused and did what they needed to win and take an important three points. The Crew defended well all night shutting down any attack the Impact tried to generate through Jack McInereny, who was looking to build off a solid performance last weekend. The team from Ohio was able to expose the Montreal wings and consistently attacked from the flanks all night long with little resistance.
The Impact continue their march to finish the MLS regular season next Sunday in Chicago. Klopas will no doubt want to win that game as he will be facing his former club for the first time this season at Toyota Park.