Not that they played all that well, this was a game Montreal should never have lost.
Again the old failing to create enough chances or take advantage of the few openings that did come their way, let them down. Again, a good performance has been followed by a somewhat less vibrant display.
Remi Garde didn’t exactly agree. “Honestly, my players were heroic today. I don’t know how we lost this game. We should’ve left with at least a point. I’m very proud of what they were able to do on the pitch and of the pressure we put them under, especially at the end. I’m confident we’ll bounce back.”
The one moment of joy came from Urruti’s exquisite cross which prompted Okwonkwo’s headed goal, providing Montreal a lifeline on 75 minutes. And yet the dividend was almost fully realized a minute from time, when Browne sent Jackson-Hamel clear of the defence. The substitute however was unable to outsmart Richey the Cincinnati goalkeeper, who stood up big and saved with his right leg.
Cincinnati with the lift of having a new man at the helm, hardly needed anything further to elevate their mood, but Montreal obliged anyway, just seven mins in. Darren Mattocks gave the slip to three static Impact defenders inside the box, pulling the ball back for Cruz, whose miscued strike looped in off the underside of the bar. Apart from the poor defending, it was one of those that makes you wonder if it’s just not going to be your day.
Scrappy or lucky, the great 528 minute Cincinnati goal-drought was over.
Much has rightly been made of the amount of clean-sheets kept by the Impact defence this season, but it’s also of note they’ve now conceded in the first 15 minutes of games, on no fewer than five occasions.
Montreal should have been level on 40 minutes. Azira’s nicely-weighted pass was met by Lovitz’s well-timed run on the left. Composed, the American crossed first time, Urruti stealing in front of Waston to apply the finishing touch from 6 yards. It was a well-worked goal, one that should have stood, yet a linesman’s flag signalled Lovitz offside. Referee Joseph Dickerson did consult with the VAR room, however the decision was confirmed. It was not the officials’ best moment.
“The goals we gave up weren’t good goals to concede, especially the first one,” said Evan Bush. “We were in a position to defend that and it put us in a bad spot seven minutes into the game. We scored what we thought was the equalizing goal, but it wasn’t, so we had to push again. We weren’t done any favours.”
The game had reached the early stages of the second-half before the Impact really showed any consistent menace, and ironically during this short period of ascendancy, Cincinnati increased their lead on 62 mins. Substitute Fatai Alashe, only on the pitch for 180 seconds, arrived on the edge of the box to slot Lamah’s pass home from 18 yards. Impact had been caught on the break.
Garde reacted without delay, introducing Okwonkwo for Azira and shortly after, Sagna for Brault-Guillard. His team dominated possession for the remainder of the game although created little apart from the goal, until that golden opportunity for Jackson-Hamel arrived, and disappeared in a flash.
FCC - Richey - Deplagne, Hoyte, Waston, Garza - Bertone, Ulloa, Amaya (Alashe, 59) - Lamah (Ledesma, 74), Mattocks, Allan Cruz (Manneh, 81)
IMFC - Bush - Brault-Guillard (Sagna, 71), Raitala (Jackson-Hamel, 75), Camacho, Diallo, Lovitz - Azira (Okwonkwo, 63), Piette, Shome - Browne, Urruti
Referee - Joseph Dickerson
Asst Refs - Apolinar Mariscal, Claudio Badea
4th Official - Victor Rivas
VAR - Sorin Stoica