Montreal Impact will never have a better chance to gain their first point at Atlanta. Both sides had key players missing either through injury or international duty, and it seemed to be Atlanta whose game was more affected by the absentees.
They dominated much of the early proceedings, but Montreal looked comfortable, and in fact should have taken the lead when Saphir Taider, a goalscorer here last season, played a beautiful ball from the left touchline, across to Choiniere bearing down on goal. The Impact youngster chased by Pogba, placed his first-time, side-footed effort wide of Guzan, but also on the wrong side of the upright.
It looked an even more costly miss, when just 3 minutes later Meram shot Atlanta into the lead. It was Choiniere who allowed the Atlanta forward too much space to turn inside and pick his spot from 20 yards. The Iraqi international’s execution was perfect, giving Bush no chance in the Montreal goal.
It was Meram’s first goal at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, a quite beautiful strike to open his account.
The Impact almost managed to get level in stoppage time at the end of the half. Taider was the provider. He picked himself up off the floor after being fouled and played a wonderful delivery from the left flank into the box. Camacho was closest to make telling contact, as he fell backwards in a stretch for the ball. The Impact man clearly felt he’d been pulled back and let the ref know. Mr Touchan however wasn’t interested.
Montreal were well-organized, had played confident composed football, and were moving the ball well, reminiscent of their midweek outing against Portland. Their reward came within 5 mins of the restart. Taider’s corner was headed out only as far as Novillo on the edge of the box. The Impact #7 rifled a half-volley goalwards before Gressel could close him down. The ball was angling wide, but there was Diallo in the six-yard box, to quite deliberately direct the ball to goal with his thigh. A second goal of the season for the French centre-back, who looked slightly embarrassed by the ease in which he finished.
It was no more than Montreal deserved.
For much of the second-half they looked well capable of taking at least a point, although Atlanta began again to get the upper hand as the game entered its last 15 minutes. Bush made an important save from Escobar, and as the game entered the 83rd minute, an Atlanta corner proved Montreal’s undoing.
Brek Shea had been on the pitch two minutes when he managed to get the wrong side of Camacho to meet the flag-kick, sending the ball across goal, where Meram reacted quicker than both Krolicki and Raitala to flick the ball into the roof of the net with the outside of his boot.
Atlanta were on their way to a sixth straight home win.
It was tough on Garde’s men who looked good value for a point. The Impact coach was happy with what he saw from his side, despite the disappointment of defeat.
“What made the difference was that there was more experience in front. I hasten to say that today I am very proud to be coach of this team. Honestly it was a game where we would have earned a point. I enjoyed my team tonight.”
The Impact drop one place to third in the Eastern Conference standings, and next Saturday (7.30pm) at Stade Saputo, take on take on Minnesota United, 7-1 winners over FC Cincinnati this evening.
IMFC - Bush - Cabrera, Diallo, Camacho - Sagna, Krolicki, Shome, Raitala - Choiniere (Jackson-Hamel, 84), Novillo (Okwonkwo, 66), Taider.
Atlanta - Guzan - Escobar, Robinson, Gonzalez-Pirez (Pereira, 68), Pogba (Shea) - Nagbe, Gressel, Remedi - P. Martinez, Vazquez, Meram (Larentowicz, 87).
Match Officials -
Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Matthew Nelson
4th Official: Rosendo Mendoza
VAR: Tim Ford