MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact won a fourth consecutive game, Saturday night at Stade Saputo, edging out the Colorado Rapids 2-1 thanks to a brace from Designated Player Saphir Taïder in the second half. With the win, the Impact currently occupies the sixth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
In the victory, the Impact’s shutout streak came to an end at 420 minutes, a new record for the Impact in MLS, when Dominique Badji scored the Rapids’ goal.
“I found my players were very focused on the task at hand, and very focused on this game,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “It wasn’t a mistake to have told them that this was a game that could’ve been difficult to handle. I’m very satisfied, and I find the group is becoming more mature.”
Scoreless after 45
As predicted by head coach Rémi Garde in the pregame presser, the Rapids opted to sit back and wait for the Impact to bring the ball forward, so much so that the home team enjoyed 67% of possession in the first half.
The Bleu-blanc-noir earned the game’s first chance early in the game after Samuel Piette was fouled in the opponent’s final third in the sixth minute. Saphir Taïder opted for the short pass towards full-back Daniel Lovitz, who ran straight into the box, dribbling past two defenders with some nifty footwork, but his ensuing shot lacked precision and hit the side netting.
A minute later, off another set piece, a nice ball played in by Taïder found centre back Jukka Raitala on the far post, but his ensuing effort from a difficult angle grazed the post and remained out.
With the Rapids settling in low in their own territory and playing with a five-man defense, the Bleu-blanc-noir focused on the aerial route in the 45, attempting 22 crosses in the opposing box. Colorado, on its end, didn’t get up field too many times, and for a third straight game, the Impact allowed no shots on net in the first half.
“It was really a collective effort, and we’re all on the same page,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “The fact that we’re piling up games with the same line-up, with only a few changes, really helps a lot. We’re finding each other well and we’re more united than ever. We all work towards the same objective, and we’re synchronised to get the result.”
Different tactics in the second
Back from the locker rooms, the home team came out with a different offensive game plan, trying quick, precise passes in and around the Rapids box to try and force an opening.
In the 55th minute, they finally found it. Silva, finding himself in possession near the top of the box, passed it neatly between two defenders towards Taïder, running in to his right. The Algerian international took a shot right away that beat Tim Howard between the legs to put the hosts up by one.
Just a minute later, the home team was at it again. Silva crossed it to the other side to Nacho Piatti. The Argentine waited patiently and found Taïder on the run. He once again made no mistake, putting it past Howard for his second of the game.
“Other than the goals, we come away with three points,” said midfielder Saphir Taïder. “It wasn’t easy. It’s a few games that we’re playing better together now, and we feel it, because the points are following too. The season is still long, but what’s important is that we remained confident, even in the hard times.”
The visitors were able to get one back in the 78th minute, after a ball was played deep into Montreal’s box from a set piece. Following a scuffle for possession, the Rapids’ initial shot was blocked by a Montreal defender, but substitute Dominique Badji was able to get on the end of it first and slot into an empty net.
The Impact will pursue its month of July by visiting Yankee Stadium and New York City FC on Wednesday, July 11 at 7pm (TVA Sports, TSN, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690), and then by hosting the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, July 14 at 7:30pm (TICKETS – TVA Sports, 98,5fm, TSN Radio).
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Chris Duvall, Rod Fanni, Jukka Raitala, Daniel Lovitz; M-Samuel Piette, Ken Krolicki, Saphir Taider (Shamit Shome, 78’); F-Ignacio Piatti, Matteo Mancosu (Anthony Jackson-Hamel, 67’), Alejandro Silva
Subs not used – Clément Diop, Victor Cabrera, Michael Salazar, Raheem Edwards, Michael Petrasso
KC – GK-Tim Howard; D-Alex Sjoberg, Kortne Ford, Tommy Smith, Danny Wilson; M-Deklan Wynne, Jack Price, Johan Blomberg (Shkëlzen Gashi, 87’) F-Joe Mason (Jack McBean, 70’), Sam Nicholson, Yanick Boli (Dominique Badji, 50’)
Subs not used – Zac MacMath, Bismark Boateng, Marlon Hairston, Michael Azira
MTL – Taïder (Silva) 55’
MTL – Taïder (Piatti, Silva) 56
COL – Badji 78’
COL – Wilson – 90’ +3’