You could see it coming. Particularly when Dallas got back to 2-3 with 5 mins left on the clock.
The visitors’ introduction at half-time of Czech striker Zdenek Ondrasek, seemed to shake up the components of a game in which Lassi Lappalainen had taken advantage of two inexcusable Dallas errors, to ease his side into a comfortable lead.
Despite Ondrasek’s influence and the positive second-half response by the visitors, the game still looked done and dusted and the result merely academic on 56 mins, when Okwonkwo, enduring a frustrating evening until then, latched onto Taider’s exquisite cross to extend Montreal’s lead to three.
But three minutes later Dallas grabbed a lifeline. Camacho’s botched clearance from Pomykal’s ball in, went straight to Barrios who shot from 18 yards. Bush was equal to the attempt, but could only parry, and Ondrasek reacted quickest to bury the rebound from 10 yards.
Bush was busy again on 61 and 65 mins saving from Ondrasek then Barrios from Ondrasek’s knock-down. The Impact were struggling to contain a Dallas side that had decided to go for broke.
At 3-0 up Montreal should have been more capable of managing the game to a successful conclusion, but they were found wanting. Shome was introduced for Bojan, who clearly needs games, on 60 mins, and Tabla entered for Okwonkwo ten minutes later. But neither change could stem the tide, although Montreal would enjoy two further opportunities to put the game beyond the visitors’ reach.
First Tabla broke, twisting Cannon one way, and as you thought he might take the direct route to goal, he tried to turn him again only for the Dallas man to win round two and come away with the ball.
Then on 83 mins, Sagna found Tabla with a delightful ball down the right flank. The Barca loanee skipped inside, and with Urruti making his run to the near post, the youngster crossed behind the on-rushing forward.
If Montreal were suffering from jangling nerves before the 85th minute, then they had full-blown jitters after Dallas showed more aggression and intent on the corner which led to the penalty. Substitute Pepi managed to head down over Urruti’s weak challenge, the ball was knocked-on, and the unlucky Krolicki penalized as the ball struck his outstretched arm. Captain Ziegler finished from the spot with certainty.
In the last minute of regulation time, Dallas again won a corner, same side, similar result, only this time it didn’t need a penalty. Hollingshead rose head and shoulders above everyone and glanced Barrios’ flag-kick into the far corner.
No-one was guarding the post. No-one got close to Hollingshead. Montreal Impact had yet again come unstuck on a set-play.
One must wonder at the character of this Impact side. When you look at the types of goals being conceded, it’s gone from poor central defending from open play earlier in the season, to a crass inability to defend set-pieces, particularly over the past month or longer.
Tonight’s was not a defeat. It may well have been however, because after throwing away a three goal lead this might be the most damaging outcome of all, on the recent poor run.
The play-offs look a long way off, yet you look at the strengthened squad and think if somehow Montreal can limp into seventh place, get everyone available, have Piatti firing on all cylinders, and get Bojan up to speed, they could actually do some damage. But there’s a lot of ‘ifs’ in there.
It doesn’t look good. While it’s great on paper having a run of home games towards the season’s end, if you can’t win them, there’s very little to be optimistic about.
Tonight should have been another one of celebration for Lassi Lappalainen. The speedy, Finnish youngster, clearly still struggling for stamina in the latter stages of games given his post-match comments, had instinctively finished the two chances presented him with coolness and consummate ease.
But it wasn’t to be. Each of those goals were borne of a pair of schoolboy errors on the part of Hedges and then Ferreira. Dallas had dug themselves, not so much into a hole after 45 minutes, more like a highway-wide crater. On 90 minutes however, the Dallas bench launched into wild celebration when Hollingshead’s glanced header squared things up..
They’d been let out of jail and well they knew it.
Their accommodating hosts had slipped them the key.
IMFC - Bush - Sagna, Camacho, Raitala, Lovitz - Okwonkwo (Tabla, 71), Krolicki, Taider (c), Lappalainen - Bojan (Shome, 61), Urruti
FC Dallas - Gonzalez - Cannon, Hedges, Ziegler (c), Hollingshead - Pomykal (Servania, 79), Acosta, Ferreira (Pepi, 71) - Barrios, Badji, Reynolds (Ondrasek, 46)
Match Officials -
Referee: Ted Unkel
Asst Refs: Kathryn Nesbitt, Andrew Bigelow
4th Official: Yusri Rudolf
VAR: Ricardo Salazar