For only the second time in MLS, Montreal Impact managed to win a first meeting with an expansion side. Not only that, they knocked adversity on the head and dredged up a performance and win that keeps them in the mix for post-season football.
Possibly buoyed by thoughts of a trip home to Montreal later today, the Impact made a positive start which was much about the energy, technique and shooting power of Bojan, although McCarthy in the Miami goal will be disappointed to be beaten from 35 yards out.
The little Catalan was really in the mood, twisting, turning and making forceful thrusts through the opposition backline. You’d almost think a contract renewal was on the table.
It was enough to lift his team, probably made tired legs less weary and for half an hour in which Montreal should have increased their lead, it was difficult to believe that the side carrying momentum into this game was the one from Miami.
Bojan was causing problems for Argentinian centre-back Figal, one delightful move and turn had the defender off to the shops to buy a newspaper, and another after the Impact man glided past the same player, brought a decent save from McCarthy.
Urruti had the best chance to make it two however, but on the turn he snatched at the ball and screwed his shot wide with Bojan looking better-placed to finish.
But as we’ve come to expect from the Impact this season, a pressing of the self-destruct button was not far away. The error this time came from rookie ‘keeper Pantemis, who dived past Shea’s deflected shot and was unable to recover as the ball squirmed over the line. Notably the player who offered most consolation to the young ‘keeper was another who’s suffered similarly this season, Rudy Camacho.
Montreal felt a reaction after Shea’s 32nd minute strike, Miami finishing the half strongest.
Perhaps inspirational half-time words re-set minds, for the Impact emerged from the break and quickly re-seized the initiative.
“When you concede a goal the way we did, you are kind of thinking ‘Again?’ said Thierry Henry. “We were in total control, then we concede a goal like that. But it can happen, although this time, instead of reacting [poorly], we reacted [positively] at the beginning of the second-half.
“Then we had a brilliant play to score the second goal and what a pass from Bojan, because he could have had a goal [himself] and he passed it [to Urruti]”
That second goal on 80 mins, proved to be the winner and arrived after the game had reduced in intensity. Perhaps both sets of players were feeling the pace, given some busy match scheduling, but smart footballers find similar wavelengths and this was true of Quioto and Bojan on more than one occasion during the evening. This time Bojan made the clever run, Quioto threaded perfect ball through, and the former Barca man squared unselfishly for the better-placed Urruti, to tap home.
Montreal weathered a Miami storm over the last ten minutes, A makeshift defence coming up against the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and an opponent finding form, for many Impact fans would not have been a source of great confidence, but their side held firm and got this one over the line.
Those same fans can’t fail to have been impressed by the performance of Joel Waterman, the former Cavalry CanPL player, whose opportunities have been limited this season. In only his fourth MLS start, he looked assured and indeed won the early tackle which set the move in motion for the first of his side’s goals scored by Bojan.
Montreal will now get a welcome break back home and will next be in action against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium, Saturday. Some of the squad are badly in need of rest, others will have the chance to recover from injuries.
After last night’s result, the prospect of greater player availability and the opportunity to recharge batteries at home, the Montrealers should return to the Bronx nicely refreshed to resume the chase for a play-off spot.
A second-ever victory over the Light Blues in a week’s time would go a long way to achieving that objective.
IMFC - Pantemis - Brault-Guillard, Camacho, Waterman, Corrales - Sejdic, Wanyama, Piette, Quioto - Bojan (Shome, 85), Urruti (Ballou-Tabla, 90+1).
Bench (not used) - Sirios, Bayiha, Yao, Giraldo, Toye, Jackson-Hamel
Inter - McCarthy - Nealis (Pellegrini, 82), Figal, Gonzalez-Pirez, Shea - Matuidi, Trapp (Carranza, 71), Ulloa (Higuain; F, 82) - Morgan, Higuain; G, Sweat
Bench (not used) - Agudelo, Chapman, Robinson, DeLaGarza, Callander, Ambrose
Match Officials -
Referee: Timothy Ford
Asst Ref: Kyle Atkins, Adam Wienchowski
4th Official: Luis Arroyo
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic