Despite scoring on LA Galaxy soil for the first time ever through Lassi Lappalainen’s beautifully placed header, predictably Montreal Impact went down by the odd goal in three.
It was a third defeat in four visits to the home of the Galaxy, although the Impact without Bojan, Urruti and Piatti gave an encouraging account of themselves. Should they repeat this result on Wednesday evening in Toronto where attention is more focused, they will be crowned Canadian Champions.
As ever the home side’s #9, was significant in victory, or defeat, depending upon your perspective, but so was the conjecture surrounding the legality of Zlatan’s opening goal, and Bush’s inability to deal with Piette’s straightforward back-pass.
Ibrahimovic notched his 7thgoal in his last 11 games in the 31stminute, but question marks abound over the run of Pavon who looked suspiciously offside as the ball arrived. His pull-back found Dos Santos, who fired into the box, the ball ricocheting between Antuna and Ibrahimovic, who nonchalantly applied an unhurried, finishing touch.
If Evan Bush had no chance, then he had every opportunity in the world to comfortably avert the danger that led to the second Galaxy goal. In fact, he caused it by wanting too many touches to control the ball from Piette.
Less than three minutes had passed since Lappalainen had drawn the Impact level when Bush was far too easily closed down, his hesitancy encouraging LA’s Pavon. Pavon retrieved the contested ball on wide right before delivering into the box. It was met by Ibrahimovic’s header down, falling to Antuna, who benefitted from the bounce more than Piette, before finishing comfortably.
It was a horrible moment for Montreal, who barely had a chance to play with their tails up after getting back on level terms before falling into arrears again.
That equaliser came out of the blue. Taider, more creative and enjoying some fine form over the last couple of games had spied Lappalainen; the Algerian’s fine ball over the defence perfectly synchronising with the Finn’s movement forward, allowing him to place his header beyond the dive of David Bingham.
Earlier and throughout, Okwonkwo playing in a more central role looked more threatening than what he proved, missing his best chance from 10 yards after being set free by Taider on 20 mins. The Nigerian blasted over the bar with two Galaxy defenders closing in.
The Impact responded admirably after going behind and had efforts of note; one from Lappalainen who brought a diving save from Bingham, and a header from Camacho forward for a corner, which flew past the wrong side of the upright’s base.
But there was always danger from the hosts, most of it instigated by Man of the Match, Ibrahimovic. The Swede made Rod Fanni’s return to Impact colours less than comfortable, and at times threatened to reduce the game to a one on one with Evan Bush, who put his earlier error behind him to thwart Zlatan on two occasions.
It was a more positive Impact display than in most away games this season, however the old failing of not creating or taking enough chances to win a game remained evident. Despite the nature of the goals conceded, one could argue each was highly preventable for differing reasons, the side creating the most quality in the final third won the day.
It’s difficult to argue with the eventual outcome, although performances particularly from Lappalainen and a rejuvenated Taider are encouraging takeaways, as was the steady if not spectacular debut of Amar Sejdic.
The Impact seem to have found a way to get the very best from their Algerian #8, but sadly it’s a weapon denied them this coming Wednesday night, when they must stand broad and tall against a Toronto FC outfit whose bubble must be burst for Montreal is to salvage anything from another frustrating campaign.
LAG - Bingham - Araujo, Steres, Polenta, Romney - J Dos Santos, Corona - Lletget, Antuna, Pavon - Ibrahimovic
IMFC - Bush - Sagna, Fanni, Camacho, Lovitz - Sejdic (Choiniere, 69), Piette, Taider, Shome (Bayiha, 78) - Lappalainen, Okwonkwo
Match Officials -
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistant Referees: Jeff Hosking, Chris Elliott
4th Official: Michael Radchuk
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic