Montreal huffed and puffed, but without a goalscorer couldn’t blow the Toronto house down.
The more accomplished side won the game with two moments of quality that were beyond anything Montreal could produce.
The home side had the brighter moments of the early exchanges, if not the bulk of possession. Westberg had to be alert to beat away a close-range effort from Okwonkwo, Taider burst free on the left but couldn’t pick out Jackson-Hamel in the box, and Okwonkwo won his duel with Morrow and fired venomously from 20 yards past Westberg’s right-hand upright, all within the first quarter hour.
Toronto enjoying possession had not looked threatening until the 27th minute. Pozuelo cleverly played in Altidore, who was thwarted by Sagna diverting the ball for a corner.
Another chance arrived on 37 mins with Toronto beginning to enjoy some success on the right side, Auro’s cross was met by DeLeon, but he could only sky his finish into the Ultras behind Evan Bush’s goal.
Sam Piette had let fly from distance a few minutes earlier. Westberg looked anxious for a few moments, but was relieved as the ball sailed over the bar.
For an hour the game was balanced, Toronto’s ability to better possess the ball making them look the more likely, and so it proved after a pivotal 2 minute spell. First Piette went off with an abdominal injury, then a minute later, after Azira played a loose ball in midfield, Bradley’s header sent Pozuelo away in acres of space. Space that might have been marshalled by Piette.
Toronto’s Spanish #10 advanced without challenge, picking his spot from 20 yards beyond the out-stretched left arm of Bush.
You could almost hear the capacity crowd groan in unison, as the Toronto fans rejoiced in the corner.
The goal came in the 61st minute, four minutes before the teams were withdrawn due to thunderstorms. The break helped the home team. Montreal looked brighter and displayed more urgency after the interruption, but quality in the final third was lacking.
Their best two chances fell to Jackson-Hamel and Urruti, but Westberg, having a fine game in the Toronto goal was equal to the task each time. Urruti in particular, must have thought he’d equalized in the third minute of added time, deflecting Browne’s cross goal-wards from close in, but Westberg’s reflexes were true.
Toronto had a great chance themselves to put the seal on victory when Morrow went through with four minutes of regulation time to go. But Bush came up big, and Raitala was well positioned to clear the follow-up from Endoh off the line.
It only postponed the decisive moment however, which arrived five minutes into stoppage time. Pozuelo went down dramatically, 25 yards from goal. Altidore took responsibility and flighted the free-kick perfectly over the wall, the ball smacking the inside of the post before nestling in Bush’s net. Game over! And the big American striker went straight over to the 1642 Supporter Group behind the goal to celebrate and to taunt.
It was a goal you’d more have expected from his former side-kick, Giovinco, but it rounded the evening off on a high for a player who had looked out of sorts for most of the game.
Three defeats in succession now for Montreal, as we head towards the business end of the season. The side looks badly in need of freshening, and a player who can be a fox in the box to score goals.
The absence of Piatti remains a huge issue, but will his return even be enough to make the difference between play-offs and not? Now it appears that Sam Piette could be missing for some games too, as the problems mount.
With seven home games left the Impact has already lost the same number of times at Stade Saputo (4) as it did all of last season.
Remi Garde has worked wonders in getting his squad into a position to challenge, given the difficulties faced, but how he must wish for one or two quality ingredients to add to the mix.
IMFC - Bush - Cabrera, Raitala, Lovitz - Sagna, Piette (Bayiha, 60), Shome (Urruti, 79), Azira - Okwonkwo (Browne, 62), Jackson-Hamel, Taider.
Subs not used - Diop, Camacho, Diallo, Novillo.
TFC - Westberg - Auro (Laryea, 76), Bradley, Mavinga, Morrow - Altidore, Delgado, Gonzalez, DeLeon (Endoh, 46), Shaffelburg (Zavaleta, 83) - Pozuelo
Subs not used - Bono, Fraser, Mullins, Morgan.
Match Officials -
Referee - Drew Fischer
Asst Refs - Brian Dunn, Jason White
Fourth Official - Marcos de Oliveira
Video Assistant Referee - Geoff Gamble