Cody Cropper’s horrendous blunder with 12 mins remaining propelled Montreal Impact to its first road win without Piatti in the line-up since September 2013. The hoodoo now broken, perhaps the bleu/blanc/noir can move forward with confidence with or without their great talisman on board.
The Impact, making four changes to their line-up from Philly, reacted well following various difficulties encountered in getting to the Foxboro venue, and in putting last weekend’s poor performance behind them.
They have tended to bounce back with great character following setbacks this season. Montreal has not lost two games in succession in 2019, despite playing 8 of their first nine fixtures away from Stade Saputo, where they will entertain Chicago Fire on Sunday.
This evening, in sparsely populated Gillette Stadium, they dominated the first-half in a way unfamiliar to IMFC observers. It was a much bolder and positive away performance than we’ve seen. Impact played higher up the field and in that first 45, enjoyed large swathes of possession in enemy territory.
But they didn’t score.
Chances fell to Shome, Okwonkwo whose bender rebounded from the bar, Brault-Guillard and Azira, who were each involved in forcing a double save from Cropper, and the industrious Urruti, who brought out the best in the Revs’ keeper with his free-kick attempt on 42 mins.
New England offered very little. Bush in the Montreal goal was idle.
Of course it’s a concern when one team is so much in the ascendancy yet doesn’t score, and upon the resumption, true enough, the Revs approached the contest with greater gusto. But the best they would muster was a couple of flickering chances just after the hour mark, when Juan Fernando Caicedo a substitute for the ineffective Bunbury wriggled through yet couldn’t elude Cabrera, and from the resultant corner, Agudelo’s flicked header looped off the top of the bar.
Revs’ DP, Carles Gil threatened to influence the game during this period, but for the most part he was well marshalled by Piette, who picked up a yellow card for his troubles. On another occasion the Spaniard was unhappy at a challenge from Lovitz, but overall he was on the periphery of things as his team struggled to gain second-half superiority despite enjoying more of the ball.
Jackson-Hamel replaced a less effective Urruti in the second-half, and it was to prove a telling move by Garde. It was the replacement striker who struck the ball goalwards in the sequence that led to a dubious free-kick for handball, going Impact’s way.
Lovitz stepped up to take, bent his ball over the wall and down, the attempt not angry enough to trouble a well-positioned goalkeeper. But Cropper fumbled horribly, clawing the ball with his right-hand as it threatened to fall behind him. It left Shome, diligently following up, with the simplest of tasks to claim his maiden MLS goal and Montreal’s first at Gillette Stadium in 5 visits.
One would become two on 85 mins. Lovitz showed more determination than Andy Farrell on the flank, the Montreal man crossed perfectly for Jackson-Hamel to thump the ball home despite the close attentions of Mancienne.
As he game entered added time, Montreal were comfortably seeing the game out, intent on keeping a fourth shut-out of the season, but Jackson-Hamel wasn’t yet finished. Clement Bayiha found him inside the Revs half. Still with plenty to do, the striker advanced into the opposition penalty area with Mancienne in reverse, before picking his spot into the bottom corner, 3-0. It was a good finish by the Montreal man, and it replicated his contribution from his last appearance against New England.
This was an encouraging display by the visitors, a worrying one for New England, who looked listless and sterile. Brad Friedel would appear to have quite a job on his hands to turn things around.
There were good displays all over the park for the Montrealers, although for a long time it looked like they would regret not converting at least one of those first-half opportunities.
The centre-back pairing of Diallo and Cabrera were sound, and there was some good inter-play on the left between Shome and Okwonkwo, who looked at home on the opposite side to which we’re used seeing him play. Brault-Guillard again looked the part, and Lovitz performed key roles in the construction of the first two goals.
Montreal is now up to a heady second place in the East. Consolidating this position against Chicago at the weekend must now be the priority, as the Impact return home. Their gruelling early-season road schedule, which despite some difficult and ugly times, appears to have paid off quite handsomely.
NE Revs - Cropper - Farrell, Mancienne, Anibaba, Castillo - Luis Caicedo, Fagundez (Wright, 82), Caldwell (Penilla, 71), Gil - Agudelo, Bunbury (Juan Fernando Caicedo, 59)
IMFC - Bush - Brault-Guillard, Cabrera, Diallo, Lovitz - Azira, Piette, Shome (Choiniere, 84) - Bayiha, Urruti (Jackson-Hamel, 71), Okwonkwo (Raitala, 80)
Referee - Nima Saghafi
Asst Refs - Frank Anderson, Philippe Briere
4th Official - David Gantar
VAR - Alan Kelly