MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact suffered a 3-2 defeat against Columbus Crew SC, this Saturday at Stade Saputo. Justin Meram scored a hat-trick for the visitors, while Nacho Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel replied for the Bleu-blanc-noir.
“It’s impossible to win when you concede three goals at home,” said Impact head coach Mauro Biello. “We lack consistency over 90 minutes, and we have to change that. We dominated the second half, but we waited until we conceded twice before we started to play. We have to believe and have the confidence to take initiative.”
A crowd of 17,508 attended the game, meaning that the Montreal Impact will donate $17,508 to the Canadian Red Cross to help the victims of severe flooding in the Greater Montreal Area and in many regions of Quebec.
Dzemaili sets up goals in debut
New Designated Player Blerim Dzemaili started his first Impact game and wasted no time getting involved. Exactly 64 seconds in, Dzemaili managed a fine tackle on Wil Trapp, which led to the first Montreal corner – but Montreal couldn’t capitalize. Wonderful service also came from Dzemaili on set plays throughout the first half, most notably for Ballou Tabla and Dominic Oduro.
“Columbus defended very well, and they made it difficult for us with two somewhat lucky goals,” said Blerim Dzemaili. “We’re unlucky that we lost this game. A point could have been good. The whole team was better in the second half, and we need to keep playing like we did in that half.”
Columbus’ first attack, in the fifth minute, was the stage of two spectacular Evan Bush saves. After a first stop on a fierce Federico Higuaín shot from distance, the rebound fell for Kekuta Manneh who tried to head it in. Swinging his body the other way, Bush somehow managed to get a grip on the ball. The goal, however, would have been ruled out for offside anyway.
Luck befell Columbus’ side at the Bleu-blanc-noir conceded in the 14th minute. Emerging down the middle, Meram ran at the Montreal defence and tried to slip the ball through. Crew SC’s number 9 saw the ball bounce off a defender, however, and Meram beat Bush with a low shot to his right.
Hoping to create an equalizer, the Impact instead saw Meram score a second in the 28th minute. Another lucky bounce, this time after an attempt to clear the ball, allowed Meram to challenge Bush, who tried to grab the ball. Meram, however, was able to push the ball home.
Piatti pulled the Impact within one goal shortly after halftime. In the corner to Zack Steffen’s right, Piatti got past Jonathan Mensah and slipped the ball to Dzemaili. Oduro was Dzemaili’s target at the penalty spot, but the Impact forward fell under the challenge of Nicolai Naess. Nevertheless, Piatti had followed the action and he swiftly slammed the ball past the Crew SC ‘keeper, tying Marco Di Vaio at the top of the all-time Impact MLS scoring charts, with 34 goals, in the process.
Sharp as ever, Dzemaili created Jackson-Hamel’s equalizer on a free kick. On the cross, a Crew SC defender got a deflection, but the ball still found Jackson-Hamel who headed it in to make it 2-2. For his part, Jackson-Hamel tied the all-time top scorer among Impact Homegrown Players.
“We’re competitive guys, and it kills us not to get points at home,” said defender Chris Duvall. “We fought back, and we know that any team that loses a two-goal lead is going to be scared. And we didn’t take advantage of that.”
Ever-present in this game, Meram completed his hat-trick in stoppage time on the counter. Playing a one-two with Niko Hansen in the box, Meram checked and took another right-footed shot that found the target to make it 3-2.
Left aghast by the turn of events, the Bleu-blanc-noir still tried to mount a comeback in the dying seconds, challenging the Columbus defence with long balls, but the home side ran out of time.
The Impact will be back at Stade Saputo on Saturday, May 20, at 3pm, against the Portland Timbers (TVA Sports, 98,5FM & TSN Radio 690). Excellent tickets for this game, as well as season tickets, are still available on impactmontreal.com.
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Chris Duvall, Kyle Fisher, Laurent Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo; M-Ballou Tabla (David Choinière 85’), Adrián Arregui (Patrice Bernier 46’), Blerim Dzemaili, Hernán Bernardello (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 74’), Nacho Piatti; F-Dominic Oduro
Subs not used – GK-Maxime Crépeau; D-Wandrille Lefèvre, Daniel Lovitz; M-Calum Mallace
CLB – GK-Zack Steffen; D-Héctor Jiménez, Jonathan Mensah, Nicolai Naess, Jukka Raitala; M-Kekuta Manneh (Niko Hansen 63’), Artur, Federico Higuaín (Alex Crognale 74’), Wil Trapp, Justin Meram; F-Adam Jahn (Ola Kamara 89’)
Subs not used – GK-Logan Ketterer; D-Waylon Francis; M-Mohammed Abu, Cristian Martínez
CLB – Meram 14’
CLB – Meram 28’
MTL – Piatti 52’
MTL – Jackson-Hamel 77’
CLB – Meram (Hansen) 90’ + 1’
CLB – Jahn 31’
CLB – Steffen 52’
MTL – Tabla 57’
CLB – Higuaín 58’
MTL – Duvall 89’