MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact and New York City FC fought to a 1-1 draw in front of a sell-out crowd of 20,801 supporters, Saturday night at Stade Saputo. Midfielder Micheal Azira tied the game with his first career MLS goal, after New York opened the scoring in the 17th minute thanks to an own goal. With the win, the Bleu-blanc-noir brings its unbeaten streak to three games, including two wins.
“I think globally, we defended well during the entire game,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “Not on the goal we conceded, but one mistake happens. However, I think offensively, especially in the second half, we could’ve been better. We’ll need to be better in the next few games.”
The point brings the Impact to 40 on the season, helping the team maintain the sixth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with four games left to play.
Montreal imposing at home
It didn’t take long for Montreal to get into enemy territory, earning a good opportunity in the first minute after Nacho Piatti was fouled right outside the box. Daniel Lovitz’s attempt hit the wall, and New York was able to get it clear after a scramble in the box.
But it was the Citizens that struck first, in the 17th minute. David Villa, in the middle, fed it wide towards right-back Ben Sweat, who whipped the ball into the box on his first touch, unluckily deflecting off a Montreal defender and into the back of the net.
Piatti came close to tying in the 23rd minute after he made his way past two defenders on the left side, but his curling shot from just outside the box went slightly over the bar. Two minutes later, Montreal broke out on the counter and Piatti found Alejandro Silva on the opposite side. The Uruguayan chipped it neatly to Quincy Amarikwa in the box, but his header lacked power and missed wide.
Montreal’s continued pressure finally paid off in the 27th minute. Defender Bacary Sagna, in possession on the right flank, passed towards Piatti at the edge of the box, who backheeled it directly into Micheal Azira’s run. The midfielder didn’t need telling twice, shooting it with his first touch past goalkeeper Sean Johnson to tie the game at one.
It was Azira’s first career goal in MLS in his 98th appearance. The Argentine, on his end, improved his assist tally to 13 on the season, including four in his last two games, equalling a club record.
“It felt good to score for Montreal, for my club, and for my teammates,” said midfielder Micheal Azira. “It’s a good feeling to score your first goal like that, and against New York City FC. When you play at home, you always want three points, but we’ll take the one tonight.”
More reserved in the second
Both teams took a reserved approach upon returning from the dressing rooms, with the score still tied at one. Goalkeeper Evan Bush was forced into action twice early in the second, making a good diving save in the 64th minute off a powerful shot from forward Ronald Matarrita to keep the score level. The American goalkeeper ended his night with four saves.
Montreal earned its first chance of the half in the 68th minute, when Silva crossed for Piatti near the touchline, but the Argentine’s left footed shot from a difficult angle was pushed aside.
The Impact’s south American tandem in attack almost connected again in the 84th minute, when Piatti sent a ball through the defenders for a streaking Silva, but Johnson made himself big to stifle the Uruguayan’s attempt.
Then, in the 87th minute, Piatti found Matteo Mancosu this time, in for Amarikwa, behind the defense. The Italian striker finished the play and found the back of the net, but it was later called offside by referee Nima Saghafi.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t come away with the win, but I think this is a huge point,” said striker Quincy Amarikwa. “It hurts right now, but I think when we look back at the end of the season, we’re going to be very happy we didn’t drop all points in this game.”
The Impact will visit Washington on Saturday, September 29, to take on D.C. United at Audi Field (TVA Sports) in a crucial game for the run to the MLS Cup playoffs, before coming back to Stade Saputo to host the Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, October 6 at 3pm (TICKETS - TVA Sports, TSN, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690).
MTL – Gk-Evan Bush; Bacary Sagna, Rod Fanni, Rudy Camacho, Daniel Lovitz; M-Samuel Piette, Micheal Azira, Saphir Taïder; F-Alejandro Silva, Quincy Amarikwa (Matteo Mancosu 74’), Ignacio Piatti
Subs not used – Clément Diop, Jukka Raitala, Chris Duvall, Jeisson Vargas, Shamit Shome, Ken Krolicki
NYC – Gk-Sean Johnson; D-Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat; M-Maximiliano Moralez, Alexander Ring, Eloi Amagat (Ismael Tajouri-Shradi 71’); F-Jo Inge Berget (Ebenezer Ofori 64’), David Villa, Ronald Matarrita (Valentin Castellanos 81’)
Subs not used – Brad Stuver, Sebastien Ibeagha, Rodney Wallace, James Sands
NYC – Rudy Camacho (OG) 17’
MTL – Micheal Azira (Ignacio Piatti) 27’
MTL – Micheal Azira 49’
NYC – Alexander Callens 57’
NYC – Maxime Chanot 78’
NYC – Ronald Matarrita 79’
MTL – Saphir Taïder 90+3’