Houston coach Wilmer Cabrera’s gamble of leaving two key attackers on the bench, introducing them later as Impact tired, probably won this game for the home side.
Impact are now 0-7-1 from their MLS visits to the Dynamo.
Yet, despite not producing a performance of high quality, Montreal looked like they would comfortably see this one out with a share of the spoils. It would be wrong to suggest the visitors did enough to win it, they didn’t, but then Evan Bush wasn’t that busy either.
The decisive moment came in the 86th minute, when one of those key Dynamo attackers, Romell Quioto reacted sharpest to his own blocked attempt as the ball ricocheted away from Azira. Quioto then fizzed a cross into the goal area where Manotas reacted quickest to direct the ball home.
If the sign of a good striker is to pop up and score when having an anonymous game, the the 23-year-old Colombian is right up there. He was well-shackled throughout, also suffering from a lack of service from his supporting cast, but was right on point when it mattered. It’s the fifth MLS game in a row, the striker has scored in. It is also his 50th Dynamo goal.
Montreal had taken the lead through Saphir Taider’s controlled finish from Azira’s looping cross in minute 34. But they were unable to stay in the ascendency for longer than 60 seconds. Martinez won his duel with Piette and laid the ball off for Jose Rodriguez, the American blasting an unstoppable missile past Bush from 22 yards. Montreal should not have been so vulnerable immediately after scoring themselves. Bush could not be faulted. The Orange Bandsmen stopped playing to celebrate.
That one minute spell of goalscoring was the highlight of a dull match that failed to come to life again until the late winning goal. Montreal failed to create another chance, and Houston fared little better but of course, they did get the job done.
Piatti in his 150th game (all comps) for the Impact was harnessed as effectively as Manotas had been for 85 mins. There was no spark from the Argentinian who was foiled at every turn on the few slivers of possession he had.
If anyone was going to make something happen it was Taider. He did ghost in at the back post again in the 76th minute after Sagna and Choiniere had combined well on the right, but the latter’s cross was swept away fairly comfortably for a corner by DeLaGarza.
On the night, Montreal’s passing lacked real precision, their ability to break from defence swiftly, was non-existent and just as they appeared to be heading for a decent point, their game management failed to close the deal.
The lack of threat posed to the opposition throughout was disappointing and reminiscent of so many Impact “away-days” of the past, but we are only at game two, and just as no-one should have been getting carried away after victory last week, then the same applies this time around. Any conclusions being drawn at this point are light in value.
Sitting watching in Montreal, it’s perhaps difficult to understand the effect of Houston’s humidity which generally tends to kick-in around late March. Temperature during game time was a reasonable 24 celsius, but we did hear Michael Azira make mention of the heat during his half-time interview.
All that said though, northern-based teams such as Seattle, Philadelphia, New England and Vancouver all went to BBVA Compass Stadium in 2018, and left with three points.
Yet it remains an incredibly difficult venue for successive Montreal teams to plunder points from. Cannot help thinking this evening presented a better opportunity than in past years to buck the trend. Not only were Houston very ordinary, they actually looked as flat as did Montreal in the latter stages.
Romell Quioto and Mauro Manotas clearly had other ideas however.
Houston Dynamo – Willis – DeLaGarza, Struna, Figueroa, Lundkvist – Ceren, Boniek Garcia, Hairston (Elis 57), Martinez (McNamara 74), Rodriguez (Quioto 65) – Manotas
Montreal Impact – Bush – Sagna, Cabrera, Diallo, Lovitz – Piette, Azira, Taider (Shome 84) , Piatti – Okwonkwo (Choiniere 46), Urruti (Jackson-Hamel 80)
Referee - Ismail Elfath.