There’s been plenty of optimistic and confident noises from the locker room this season that there’s more to come from this Impact team, that it has the ability to bounce back, that they know where the mistakes are being made. It’s a matter of being more focused they said, and we must remember to play like a team ... and so on.
The noise is getting tired, just like the squad seems to be. Whether it’s mental or physical fatigue, either way, they look jaded. Concentration is lacking. I wouldn’t say anyone’s not giving their all, but levels have dropped.
It has to be a mystery even to the most placid, least demanding, fan why the Impact has not used the window to freshen things up. With a decent platform established to launch a play-off push, new faces in key positions would surely have given everyone a lift, smoothing the passage to post-season.
New faces may yet arrive of course, but they were needed as soon as the window opened, not now, not next week. ‘Eventually’ is better than nothing, but it may also be too late.
Presently there’s a grave danger that good results secured in a difficult opening half of the season may count for nothing. Montreal Impact could be below the play-off line for the first time, as soon as this weekend is over, and that’s after getting a huge break through Houston’s unlikely 3-1 success at BMO Field this evening.
They were caught cold on 6 minutes at MAPFRE Stadium, the 6th time in 13 away games they’ve conceded within the first 15 mins. Nothing like giving yourself an uphill battle.
Lovitz tried desperately and acrobatically to prevent the ball crossing the line. Had he tracked Williams at the free-kick, he wouldn’t have had to, Bush wouldn’t have been left so exposed, and the game would surely have remained scoreless.
Quite how Montreal didn’t equalize in the 14th minute, it’s hard to fathom. Okwonkwo won a free-kick on the right, Urruti swept the ball in and both Shome and Camacho rapped the ball against the bar. Shome in particular should have converted.
The Impact had responded admirably to going behind, having a greater share of possession, and managed to get on level terms during stoppage time when Diallo headed in Taider’s corner.
Psychologically a good time to score and with signs of porosity in the Crew’s defending, particularly at set-pieces, the Impact should have been looking at the second 45 with optimism.
But that was before they shot themselves in the foot once again. Diallo a hero less than a minute before the break, was the villain less than a minute after. The French centre-back tried to step up and play Accam offside, but got his timing all wrong, the Columbus forward going through unhindered to slide the ball beyond Bush. It was lazy defending.
The rest of the game was notable only for Sagna’s red card and Zardes’ inability to find his shooting boots, for the American really should have closed the deal before the 90 was up.
That very simple, basic and by now common ball through the centre of defence, again caught the Impact out. Sagna, the last man, tried to conceal his pull on David Accam, but not well enough. The Columbus man went down, and the inevitable dismissal followed.
The Impact’s ten men were unable to create any chances throughout a second period in which Columbus struggled to make their numerical superiority count.
This was a game undoubtedly there for the taking, an opportunity for Montreal to put points between themselves and chasing clubs, but there was too much sloppiness in a tired performance lacking in professionalism and nous.
Crew - Room - Afful, Williams (Crognale, 56), Keita, Francis (Jimenez, 45) - Trapp, Artur - Argudo, Pedro Santos, Accam (Luis Diaz, 74) - Zardes.
IMFC - Bush - Camacho, Diallo, Raitala (Browne, 80) - Sagna, Azira, Shome (Bayiha, 64), Lovitz - Okwonkwo, Urruti, Taider (Krolicki, 84)
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Refs: CJ Morgante, Michael Kampmeinert
4th Official: Greg Dopka
VAR: Ricardo Salazar