The Stade Saputo fortress resembled more of a wooden bungalow this afternoon as the Impact’s luck finally ran out at home.
NYCFC, the more accomplished side throughout, have now taken 10 points from their last four games, since switching to a back three.
They were rarely troubled by Montreal’s sterility in the midfield and at the business end of the pitch. Simply put, the home side, who’ve battled admirably without star player, Piatti, for much of this season, really need him back, or continue to lack cutting edge.
Sean Johnson in the visitors’ goal, first had to break sweat only after 60 mins, tipping a cross from the left over the bar to safety. Not good enough from a team at home. True, Taider should’ve scored with a 36th minute header, but his effort when virtually unchallenged, was misdirected and fired harmlessly wide.
Montreal weren’t able to ask enough questions, and NYCFC with their five-man midfield dominant, strolled towards their fifth unbeaten visit to this venue. It was a disjointed performance from Garde’s men, who continue to bobble up and down on a trajectory of inconsistency. It’s not so much one step forward and two steps back, but it is one step forward and one step back.
Jackson-Hamel who has rarely shone as a starter, kept up his record, and it must be questioned how he was preferred over Urruti, a far from prolific alternative, but one that possesses other valuable assets.
AJH was not alone in under-performing, and was not helped by Impact’s low tempo start to the game. NYCFC showed far more intent from the off, and it wasn’t long before Impact were rocked back on their heels.
In the 6th minute the visitors took the lead. Tinnerholm took possession in-field, and slipped a ball to Sweat bearing down the left channel. Bush saved well from Sweat’s well-struck shot, but could do nothing about the rebound, despatched into the net by Moralez.
The warning signals had already been apparent. Just two minutes before, a similar situation developed, but this time Moralez side-footed wide.
This Montreal side struggles to find a way back when going behind and frustration came to the fore as the half wore on with yellow cards flashed to Lovitz and Taider, for fouls, after each had lost possession.
Montreal coach, Remi Garde - “We have been playing without our best player for a long time now. And we have not played so many games at home. We have a certain strategy on the road, and I feel we had chances to develop one or two goals in today’s game. Saphir had one chance with the header and Orji also from set-pieces.”
“But NYC is a good team and they play good football. But I’m not so disappointed with my players and their fight on the field. They tried to do anything to score at least a goal, to come back. And for me, once again, when you have this attitude, we try to recover and then we are ready to go to the next game.”
A spirited end to the half, when Montreal players rather hopefully sought a penalty after an Okwonkwo header went goal-wards, the Nigerian following up by rising highest at the resultant corner, provided optimism for the second period.
The optimism was short-lived however, as Tajouri-Shradi benefitted from a ricochet to plant the ball past Bush in minute 50. The Libyan international finished with aplomb after Okwonkwo had made up considerable ground to cover Tinnerholm’s advance on the Montreal left. The product of Okwonkwo’s subsequent tackle on Moralez provided just the break Tajouri-Shradi needed.
Montreal displayed plenty of desire to get back into the game, but lacked the craft required, even after the half-time introduction of last weekend’s hero, Browne.
How everyone wishes and hopes Piatti’s recovery is nearing completion.
Montreal ended the match without a shot on target, and NYC had chances to extend their lead, most notably on 61 mins when Bush saved well from Ring, who benefitted from strong hold-up play by Heber, the Brazilian, and later on when Heber himself, attended by Piette, lipped the ball over Bush but saw it roll the wrong side of the upright.
Not a good afternoon for Montreal, who now go off on a two-match road trip, firstly to New York Red Bulls, midweek, followed by a first visit next weekend to FC Cincinnati.
What better incentive could they have at Red Bulls Stadium, Wednesday evening, than to halt a horrid catalogue of defeats at the venue. They’ve lost all nine MLS regular season games they’ve played there, scoring 8 times and conceding a whopping 28.
The Impact has shown numerous times they can bounce back from set-backs already this season. This would be a perfect time to repeat the trend.
IMFC - Bush, Brault-Guillard, Raitala, Diallo, Lovitz - Piette, Azira (Shome, 86), Taider - Novillo (Browne, 46), Jackson-Hamel, Okwonkwo (Urruti, 57)
NYCFC - Johnson - Chanot, Ibeagha, Callens - Tinnerholm, Ring, Ofori (Rocha, 68), Sweat - Tajouri-Shadri (Castellanos, 86), Heber, Moralez (Medina, 62).
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Eric Boria, Jason White
4th Official: Lukasz Szpala
VAR: Ekaterina Koroleva