MONTREAL – In the 100th MLS regular season game at Stade Saputo, the Montreal Impact beat the Chicago Fire 2-1 on Saturday night in front of 18 831 supporters. Left-back Daniel Lovitz scored the winning goal in second-half stoppage time after Nemanja Nikolić equalized for the visitors in the second half. It was the defender’s first goal in an Impact uniform, and also his first in MLS.
“We didn’t play our best game,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “We’re going through a period where we have a hard time controlling play. We can do better. I did like my team’s reaction after they tied because we attacked after. We wanted to get the result, and that’s satisfying in itself.”
With the win, the Impact maintains the sixth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Flying start for the home team
Montreal wasted no time getting on the board. In the sixth minute, a neatly worked one-two between Saphir Taïder and Nacho Piatti allowed the Algerian international to run into the box with speed. He was then fouled from behind by Bastian Schweinsteiger after dribbling past him, prompting referee Baldomero Toledo to point to the spot. Piatti stepped up and netted his 12th of the season, sending Chicago goalkeeper Richard Sánchez the wrong way to give the home team an early lead.
It was the Bleu-blanc-noir again that came close to doubling its lead in the 15th minute, when a cross into the 18-yard box was not properly cleared by a Fire defender and almost beat Sánchez, but he was able to get there in time.
Montreal made itself another chance near the end of the half, when Taïder found Piatti open on his favourite left side. The Argentine beat his defender by cutting inside, but his cross was handled by the Fire defense.
Bacary Sagna, who joined the Impact on MLS transfer deadline day, made his Impact debut in the right-back position. Quincy Amarikwa and Micheal Azira, the other deadline day acquisitions, both featured in the second half.
“I’m very happy we took all three points tonight,” said right-back Bacary Sagna. “We had a good collective game, even if I think we could’ve managed the game better in certain moments by keeping the ball a little more, but we’ll work on that.”
More difficult in the second
After taking no shots in the first half, the visiting team came out with a little more energy upon returning from the locker rooms. In the 48th minute, Nemanja Nikolić was sent in on a partial break from the right side. His eventual shot missed just to the left of goalkeeper Evan Bush’s cage.
Minutes later, Nikolić again was found open in the 18-yard-box, but his header missed wide again.
The visitors managed to tie the game in the 70th minute. Nicolas Hasler, working on the right side, sent in a cross for Nikolić, in the six-yard box. The forward’s header was saved by Bush, but the ensuing rebound found Nikolić again, and this time he made no mistake, beating Bush to bring his team on level terms.
Montreal came close to regaining its lead in the 86th minute. Sagna, working on the right, found space and sent in a low cross for Taïder, but the Designated Player failed to get his attempt on target. Minutes later, an attempt from substitute Jeisson Vargas from outside the box flew just a few inches over the bar.
Finally, in stoppage time, the home team found its breakthrough. After the Fire conceded a corner, a long delivery into the box was cleared at first by a Chicago defender all the way to Daniel Lovitz, waiting at the top of the box. The American left-back and took a right-footed volley that beat everyone, including goalkeeper Sánchez, for his first goal in his 90th MLS game.
“Sometimes, you just have to be in the right place at the right time and believe in what you’re doing,” said defender Daniel Lovitz. “It went in, and I’m happy. Most importantly, we won. It was an important game. Now we look to progress through the ranks and continue on this momentum.”
The Impact will continue its sequence of key matchups with a road game against Toronto FC on Saturday, August 25, at 8pm at BMO Field (TVA Sports, TSN, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690). The Bleu-blanc-noir will then host another rival, the New York Red Bulls, on Saturday, September 1, at 7:30pm at Stade Saputo (TICKETS - TVA Sports, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690).
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; Bacary Sagna, Rod Fanni, Rudy Camacho, Daniel Lovitz; M-Samuel Piette, Saphir Taïder, Ken Krolicki (Micheal Azira 67’); F-Alejandro Silva (Jeisson Vargas 82’), Matteo Mancosu (Quincy Amarikwa 62’), Ignacio Piatti
Subs not used – Clément Diop, Jukka Raitala, Chris Duvall, Shamit Shome
CHI – GK-Richard Sánchez; D-Brandon Vincent, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Johan Kappelhof; M-Dax McCarty, Djordje Mihailovic (Michael de Leeuw 59’), Jorge Corrales, Nicolas Hasler; F-Aleksandar Katai (Brandt Bronico 64’), Nemanja Nikolic (Drew Connor 88’), Raheem Edwards
Subs not used – Stefan Cleveland, Christian Dean, Daniel Johnson, Alan Gordon
MTL – Piatti (PEN) 6’
CHI – Nikolic 70’
MTL – Lovitz 90’+1’
MTL – Camacho 24’
CHI – Corrales 41’
MTL – Sagna 68’
CHI – McCarty 80’