BRIDGEVIEW, Illinois – Ignacio Piatti scored in the dying moments of the game, this Saturday night at Toyota Park, as the Impact defeated the Chicago Fire, 2-1.
Forward Didier Drogba scored his first goal of the season in the 56th minute for the winners (4-2-0, 12 pts), while Dominic Oduro delivered two assists. The hosts (1-2-3, 6 pts) tallied in the first half through the right foot of Kennedy Igboananike.
“It was a difficult game for us in the first half, but the second half was much better,” said head coach Mauro Biello. “We were able to unbalance them. We grew as a team, and we were patient enough to move the ball and find those openings. This was a character win.”
Piatti scored the winner, his fourth goal of the season, in the first minute of added time in the second half. Fed by Oduro just outside the penalty area, on his preferred left side, Piatti curled a wonderful strike at the far post to tally his fourth of the season.
The Fire had taken a 29th-minute lead on a near-identical shot. Gilberto, bursting through the middle, played the ball wide left to Igboananike. Stepping just inside the area, Igboananike also curled a shot at the far post, beating goalkeeper Evan Bush.
Drogba, who subbed in five minutes into the second half, only needed six minutes to tie the game. A fluffed pass by goalkeeper Matt Lampson ended up on the foot of Oduro, who took a couple of touches before crossing low from the right to Drogba, alone in the area, who swiftly back-heeled the ball past Lampson.
“In the second half, we played with more rhythm and created more chances,” said Didier Drogba. “We wanted to pull off a great result here. We wanted to win. We’re top of the conference, and we have to show more ambition on the road. This win does us a lot of good.”
The two teams were cautious in the early going and didn’t create many opportunities from open play. The Impact did come close to opening the scoring in the 11th minute. Kyle Bekker’s in-swinging free kick found the head of Hassoun Camara, but centre back Jonathan Campbell cleared the attempt off the line.
Head coach Mauro Biello had only made one change to his starting lineup, replacing Lucas Ontivero with Johan Venegas on the right. However, Víctor Cabrera came off injured in first half stoppage time, with Wandrille Lefèvre taking over for his first appearance of the season.
After Drogba equalized, 11 minutes after the break, the Impact found some good opportunities while ‘keeper Bush kept it tight at the back. Bush made a highlight-reel save in the 76th minute on Alex Morrell, who unleashed a fierce shot on a Matt Polster cross. But the Montreal goalkeeper slid and dived well to his left to make a last-second stop. This win was Bush’s 21st in MLS with Montreal, a club record that he shares with Troy Perkins.
“It feels really good to win like that, credit to Didier and Nacho,” said Harry Shipp. “They made special plays and their quality gives the whole team a lot of confidence. It felt like we had the quality to score the winning goal. We’re happy to come back to Montreal with the three points.”
The Montreal Impact’s next game will be its home opener at Stade Saputo on Saturday, April 23, at 4pm EDT against rivals Toronto FC (RDS, TSN, 98,5fm & TSN Radio 690). Excellent individual tickets, as well as season tickets starting at $98 per month and Pick-4-Packs, are still available on impactmontreal.com.
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Donny Toia, Victor Cabrera (Wandrille Lefèvre 45+1’), Laurent Ciman, Hassoun Camara; M-Kyle Bekker (Marco Donadel 80’), Eric Alexander, Johan Venegas (Didier Drogba 50’), Ignacio Piatti, Harry Shipp; F-Dominic Oduro
Subs not used – GK-Eric Kronberg; D- Ambroise Oyongo; M-Patrice Bernier, Calum Mallace
CHI – GK-Matt Lampson; D-Rodrigo Ramos, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof, Michael Harrington; M-Arturo Alvarez (Matt Polster 46’), Michael Stephens, Razcan Cocis (Nick LaBrocca 78’), John Goossens (Alex Morrell 58’); F- Kennedy Igboananike, Gilberto
Subs not used – GK-Patrick McLain; D-Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent; F-Joey Calistri
CHI – Igboananike (Gilberto) 29’
MTL – Drogba (Oduro) 56’
MTL – Piatti (Oduro) 90’+1’