13 July 2016 - the last time Montreal went on a run of five MLS games without defeat. In fact it was six: four draws, two wins.
This afternoon in Sandy, Utah, Wilfried Nancy’s reign (with a little help from the previous incumbent) will attempt to reach five unbeaten again. Thierry Henry won his last regular season game in charge, 3-2 at DC United and since then his former assistant has gone three without defeat.
Mauro Biello was the last Impact coach to oversee such a run, which began with a memorable Saturday evening victory over the LA Galaxy with current Rangers manager Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole and Giovanni Dos Santos all in their ranks. Indeed Dos Santos opened the scoring, and Gerrard provided the assist from which Mike Magee squared things up at 2-2, two mins after Montreal had taken the lead.
Enter Didier Drogba. The Impact won a very late free kick within range at the Ultras End and the Ivorian stepped up, four minutes into stoppage time to hit a fierce swerving shot which Galaxy ‘keeper Brian Rowe could only help into the net.
Biello is the only Impact coach ever to enjoy a six-match unbeaten sequence in MLS. And in fact he did it twice, the previous time was his first half dozen games in charge.
Back in 2016, Montreal followed that Galaxy victory with draws at Columbus Crew (the only scoreless match between the clubs until last weekend) and at home to Sporting Kansas City (2-2).
Another brilliant 3-2 comeback success was next after Michael Salazar cancelled out two Kei Kamara goals for New England Revolution before half-time, and Nacho Piatti completed the scoring with a second-half penalty to secure the points.
The last two unbeaten games each came on the road and ended 1-1. Firstly a Harry Shipp goal, exactly 50% of his Montreal career tally, put the side in front at Real Salt Lake, only to be pegged back in the last eleven minutes when Yura Movsisyan equalised from the spot.
Then in the last game of the sequence a Nacho Piatti penalty on the stroke of half-time levelled a 14th minute opener for Portland Timbers by former Impact striker Jack McInerney.
The run ended on a pleasant Sunday evening at Stade Saputo, when New York City FC arrived and claimed what has now become their customary win at the Montreal venue. Goals by David Villa, Jack Harrison (now Leeds United) and Frank Lampard eased the Light Blues to a 3-1 success, Montreal’s only defeat in a run of ten MLS games.
Amazingly I met Frank Lampard in Brooklyn a couple of weekend’s later and couldn’t resist winding him up about his lucky winning goal in Montreal. He laughed and said, “Yeah it was a bit clappy, wasn’t it?”
I didn’t know it at time, but earlier the same afternoon Lampard had become the first NYCFC player ever to score an MLS hat-trick. Of course Frank never mentioned it, and I must admit to feeling a little ungracious upon realizing the fact next morning...