A point won or two dropped?
A fair question as it would be to any team that leads with three-quarters of a game elapsed and concedes from two goalkeeping errors, but considering Chicago’s second-half ascendency and a crippling Montreal unavailability list, including Binks, Taider and top-scorer Quioto, the result was a fair one.
The Impact enjoyed a good first-half apart from the Diop blunder and another anxious moment when Camacho stretched to avert danger and saw the ball ricochet of his own upright. Perhaps Rudy’s luck is changing.
The comparatively longer rest had served them well, although levels dipped, again, at the beginning of the second-half, but they managed to rally towards the game’s conclusion and may have nicked the points but for two decent Shuttleworth stops from Lappalainen attempts.
Diop’s poor judgement on the game’s opener in the 15th minute was one of those goals any side trying to play out from so deep, as per the Henry blueprint, will concede from time to time.
Still despite the emphasis on building short from the back the goalkeeper must be prepared to go long when shorter options are unavailable. This was one such occasion and Diop’s indecision undone the Impact’s decent not dominant, start to the game.
Instead Mihailovic intercepted easily, worked the ball quickly and simply to their most dangerous attacker, and Beric the former St-Etienne man did the rest with ease. It was his fifth goal in as many games.
But on a night when more character was evident from the Impact they found a way back into the game seven minutes later. Bojan - it was his best, most energetic showing of the season - was central to most of the good things Montreal produced and he was instrumental in levelling matters.
The Chicago defence stood off the Catalan (were they not watching when the Impact played the Red Bulls?) and the diminutive striker produced a powerful low strike. Shuttleworth managed to get behind it, but allowed the ball to squirm free. Lappalainen was quickest to react, clipping the ball over the prostrate ‘keeper with his left foot.
Emerging level for the beginning of the second-half, Montreal again looked leggy, but at least there was no early concession as in recent games. The Fire sensed this and with increased intent held the ascendancy for the next 30 minutes. Montreal were struggling for a foothold, but welcome respite arrived when up popped Maxi Urruti with his first goal since March.
Much of the incisiveness about the goal was down to Brault-Guillard’s thrust forward and shot, which took a fortunate deflection into the Argentinian’s path. Urruti produced a first-time finish just inside Shuttleworth’s post.
Brault-Guillard was producing another high-energy performance and was arguably Montreal’s most dangerous attacker on the night, although Bojan’s lively contribution also had claims. Lappalainen came alive as the Impact rallied towards the game’s conclusion, and had two goal bound efforts pushed away by Shuttleworth.
But that was before a second error from Diop led to Calvo’s equalizer for Chicago. The Senegalese came for and could only brush-stroke a Medran cross from the right and the Fire centre-back headed home to tie things up.
Thierry Henry preferred not to focus on the goalkeeping errors that cost his side victory, instead praising Diop for his performances so far this season.
“When a striker misses one on one, that’s as bad as anything else. It’s a mistake also. But you don’t concede a goal on that play. Nobody talks about it because there is no consequence. There we conceded a goal. It can happen. But Clement has been magnificent in games for us. He’s saved us so many times.”
The Impact boss also defended the style he’s trying to instil in his team.
“We scored goals coming out from behind and this is the first time we’ve given one. It also gives more room to our attackers.”
The draw allows the Impact to remain above last night’s opponent in the East however they drop one place to 9th thanks to Atlanta’s 4-0 win at Nashville.
And it doesn’t get any easier. Next up on Wednesday night is a visit to Eastern Conference table-toppers, Columbus Crew.
IMFC - Diop - Brault-Guillard, Camacho, Fanni, Raitala, Shome (Bayiha, 78) - Wanyama, Piette, Lappalainen - Bojan, Urruti (Sejdic, 86)
Bench - Pantemis, Sirois, Waterman, Yao, Giraldo
Chicago - Shuttleworth - Sekulic (Kappelhof, 87), Pineda, Calvo, Navarro (Bornstein, 72) - Gimenez, Medran - Mihailovic (Collier, 73), Herbers (C.J. Sapong, 72), Aliseda - Beric (Bronico, 87)
Bench (not used) - Sparrow, Reynolds, Omsberg, Azira
Referee - Guido Gonzales Jr.
Asst Ref - Adam Garner, Adam Wienckowski
4th Official - Kevin Broadley
VAR - José Carlos Rivero