The first rule in going away to the best team in the league, is to not give up anything cheaply, given their confidence is probably sky-high already.
But it took only 7 mins for Evan Bush to provide his Loris Karius moment last night at a bouncing Banc of California Stadium.
Taider threaded a backpass through, the goalkeeper mis-controlled, and Ramirez was on it quick as a flash, not only blocking Bush’s attempted clearance, but diverting it into the net.
A difficult task instantly became much harder. Yet the goal apart, Montreal sparred well for the opening 20 mins and even had a couple of opportunities themselves, falling to Urruti and Piatti.
But within another ten minutes of one-way traffic, LA were able to effectively seal the game. Montreal were three down and staring another SKC experience in the face.
Vela played off Diallo’s shoulder, collecting a delicious through ball from Atuesta before sliding it past Bush for number two. In that situation you never thought for a moment the league’s top-scorer would miss. Diallo was left in his wake about 2 yards behind.
The third came just after the half hour mark, Vela this time the orchestrator finding Ramirez on the left. The new US international crossed to the front post where Blessing arrived before Diallo to make it 3-0.
Until being replaced in the second-half Ramirez was having a personal duel with Bush, the Montreal ‘keeper thwarting him on no fewer than three occasions after his goal. The most spectacular of these was a pile-driver from distance which Bush managed to fist away for a corner.
Relief didn’t last long however. The flag kick came over, Blackmon lost marker, Azira, all too easily, and his free header gave Bush no chance. It was 4-0 after 55 minutes, and Impact fans were pleading for an end to the torment.
To their credit, Montreal did add some respectability to the scoreline with a couple of late goals, but by then the LA foot was already off the pedal. It had all become too easy and routine, and the home team fell asleep with the game apparently sewn up.
Urruti did well holding of Atuesta before crossing for the first Montreal goal, the ball ricocheting off Eddie Segura before trickling over the line. Then Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Urruti’s replacement, was clumsily challenged by Zimmerman as he advanced to goal. There was a pause before the American’s yellow card was reviewed by VAR for potential upgrade to red, but the original decision stood. Taider stepped up and scored from the spot, his first goal since March and his fourth on the road his season.
Missing Sam Piette in midfield, Browne up front and with Piatti not yet in full-flow, this was always likely to be a bridge too far, and indeed Montreal was flattered by the final margin. If there is a positive, it’s in how they kept plugging away and refused to fold. The performance wasn’t as lame as those at SKC and Philadelphia, but last night they were still a distant second.
You do need to look at LAFC though and appreciate that here’s an organization that’s really got it together; playing attractive football, winning games, scoring goals for fun, and with the backing of a stadium that simply looks like the best soccer experience in North America, or in MLS at least.
If the atmosphere generated by those fans last night, doesn’t make people want to go to soccer, then nothing will.
LAFC - Miller - Blackmon, Zimmerman, Segura, Harvey - Kaye, Atuesta, Blessing - Vela, Ramirez, Rossi
IMFC - Bush - Sagna, Diallo, Raitala, Lovitz - Shome, Azira, Taider - Okwonkwo, Urruti, Piatti
Referee - Armando Villareal
Asst Refs - Ian Anderson, Jeffrey Greeson
Fourth Official - Elton Garcia
VAR - Edvin Jurisevic