Well that was much less pretty than it was effective. But perhaps it’s just what the doctor ordered for Montreal Impact after the nightmare suffered last week in Kansas City.
A first clean-sheet for Evan Bush in 12 road games, a point despite Urruti’s expulsion on 70 mins, but gilt-edged chances missed in the closing stages of each half, which could’ve secured all three points.
All things considered a satisfactory afternoon’s work, but Boy! was it hard to watch. It was simply a low quality contest, played out on a much lower quality surface, one that will undoubtedly invite injury until the newly laid turf can bed down.
The action, forgettable for the most part, makes it easy to focus on the pitch, one of the worst I’ve seen in professional football. Dust visibly kicked up as the ball bounced or rolled over the surface and a huge divot appeared in one penalty-box after a duel between Taider and New York captain, Ring. On another occasion the latter was seen limping away, after the surface had given way under his standing foot, as he attempted what became a misplaced pass.
With ground-staff furiously replacing turf during the half-time interval, it was hard to imagine the likes of Villa, Lampard and Pirlo had once graced this ground. Montreal Impact are simply dying to get back home to Stade Saputo after all their travelling, but you feel, those three must surely have preferred to play their football away from the Bronx venue.
The surface clearly contributed to the poor spectacle, in which defences were well on top, and you wondered if a goal were to arrive would it be the result of an untrue bounce.
New York carried the greater attacking intent, Montreal still needs to work out how it can win on the road in the absence of Piatti. True, they almost did so here, but it would not have been deserved. Indeed, neither team was deserving of all the points.
Given the form the over-worked Saphir Taider is in, you’d have expected him to convert the headed chance provided by Lovitz’s free-kick into the box. The cross was a rare moment of quality amongst the ugliness, the header, straight at Johnson, blended with the surroundings.
Zakaria Diallo in the 4th minute of added time, had a wonderful opportunity to claim what surely would have been the winner after good work by Taider, but his finish was more centre-back than centre-forward, and the ball blazed over Sean Johnson’s cross-bar.
In between Ismael Tajouri-Shradi had the ball in the net for NYC in the 64th min, but his effort was correctly cancelled for off-side. That was a let off for the visitors, who apart from this, only ever had their goal threatened by a couple of first-half efforts from Mitrita. Bush made decent saves each time, but he would not have expected to be beaten by either effort.
You can see why NYC, now the draw specialists in MLS 2019, are having problems scoring. It wasn’t so much a failure to convert, more the lack of creativity, as Argentine playmaker Maxi Moralez was as sorely missed as fellow-countryman Piatti was by Montreal.
For Montreal it’s now 7 points from 5 matches, a better average than they’ve ever managed over a 17 road-match season. Another point in Washington on Tuesday night will further consolidate that form, and remove everyone a stage further away from what occurred last weekend.
It will be a tall order in DC of course, especially without Piatti, and now Urruti as well, but all does not appear rosy in the capital, if LAFC’s 4-0 success at Audi Field today is a yardstick. Even less rosy for DC will be the absence of Wayne Rooney, red-carded this afternoon in the 52nd minute.
Montreal will be encouraged by the Englishman’s absence. That’s for sure, and you wonder if an effect will befall DC United, similar to what Montreal experiences when Piatti’s not around.
The team from the capital’s form, pre-Rooney, was far from stellar.
NYCFC - Johnson - Tinnerholm, Ibeagha, Chanot, Matarrita - Ring, Sands - Medina (Heber, 63), Mitrita, Lewis (Tajouri-Shradi, 56) - Castellanos (Parks, 79)
IMFC - Bush - Sagna, Raitala, Diallo, Lovitz - Piette, Azura, Taider, Novillo (Cabrera, 77) - Okwonkwo (Jackson-Hamel, 83), Urruti
Ref: Ted Unkel
Asst Refs: Adam Wienckowski, Cory Richardson
VAR: Lorant Varga