Montreal Impact did manage to extend their unbeaten pre-season run to 4 matches, however had to settle for stalemate against traditional February rivals Tampa Bay Rowdies, at Al Lang Stadium last night.
While the visitors enjoyed all the best moments of a first-half, which should have seen them establish a comfortable lead, the second was very much a case of containing a high-intensity opponent lacking the guile to break them down.
The main culprit for missed chances for the Impact was Anthony Jackson-Hamel. Two opportunities within the first 9 minutes, one particularly gilt-edged from Dan Lovitz’s cross, fell to the striker. Other good chances came and went for Jackson-Hamel, who cut a frustrated figure before being replaced by Harry Novillo in the 76th minute.
If there was consolation in the Impact #11’s performance it’s the fact that he managed to get into the right positions, even if the required sharpness was lacking.
Remi Garde gave starts to many of the young brigade; Brault-Guillard, Krolicki, Shome, Choiniere (D) and Bayiha, and they showed up well in a first-half in which their team controlled the tempo.
That changed though after the interval, but even then the first chance of the new half fell invitingly to David Choiniere, who went one on one, but was unable to beat John McCarthy having a solid game in the Rowdies goal.
Legault, Cabrera and Taider were all half-time replacements, and Krolicki was lost shortly after the re-start with a nasty looking arm injury (possibly elbow), that necessitated an almost 7-minute stoppage.
The Impact appeared to lose rhythm with the changes as their hosts upped the intensity. It wasn’t again until the 4th minute of added time, before Montreal challenged the Rowdies goal in anger, Novillo on the right, latching on to a ball through the channel and bringing a decent save from a ‘still cold’ Robinson. The Rowdies back-up ‘keeper had not been on the field long having replaced the injured McCarthy.
That the Rowdies finished the game without a recognized roster center-back left in the game, and their back-up goalkeeper between the sticks, is to their credit, however Montreal must be disappointed having not been able to create more after the break.
Had Kwadwu Poku, who played a neat one-two with Dominic Oduro (no, not that Dominic Oduro), shown more accuracy it could have won the match for Tampa but he pulled his drive from 20 yards to the left of Evan Bush’s goal. It would have been reward for the Rowdies’ second-half tenacity and grit, even if they never seemed to have enough craft to truly open the Impact up.
Of the expected starters for Montreal. Neither Piatti, Urruti, Piette nor Sagna saw game time.
Montreal Impact -
GK Bush – Brault-Guillard, Camacho, Diallo (Cabrera 46’), Lovitz (Legault 46’) – Azira (Taider 46’), Krolicki (Choiniere (M) 55’), Shome, Choiniere (D) (Sejdic 85’), Bayiha, Jackson-Hamel (Novillo 76’).
GK John McCarthy (Macklin Robinson 89’); D Mohamed Kone (Dominic Oduro 68’), Papé Diakité (Ramzi Toure* 68’), Tarek Morad (Leo Fernandes 68’); M Eti Tavares* (Shawn Barry 68’), Zach Steinberger (Andrew Tinari 74’), Jordan Doherty, Yann Ekra (Kwadwo Poku 74’), Caleb Richards; F Brandon Allen (Sebastian Guenzatti 74’), Juan Tejada (Antoine Hoppenot 74’)