Montreal officially eliminated from MLS Cup playoff race
MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact and Atlanta United played to a 1-1 draw, Sunday night at Stade Saputo. After Atlanta opened the scoring early in the second half, Impact striker Bojan was able to level the score with his second Impact goal, scored in the 81st minute.
The draw officially eliminated the Montreal Impact from participating in the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs, also because New England beat New York City FC 2-0.
“I went into the locker room after the game and thanked the players, because they really put in a huge effort tonight,” said Impact head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “They tried really hard. In this game, you have to give it all, and they did. But it was a very good and talented opponent in front of us today. We played hard and created options, but we lacked the finishing touch.”
First start for Clément Diop
After playing both legs of the Canadian Championship final, it was goalkeeper Clément Diop who got the start in goal against Atlanta United, his first MLS start with the Montreal Impact, bringing Evan Bush’s streak of 66 consecutive league games started to an end.
After an energetic start, the Impact created a good chance in the 11th minute, when a cross from the right flank from Bacary Sagna found Saphir Taïder at the top of the box. The Algerian was able to turn and shoot, but his attempt was easily caught by goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Two minutes later, the visitors answered, when forward Brandon Vazquez, in possession and with space in Montreal’s defensive third, made his way towards the box unopposed before unleashing a long-range shot, but Diop was able to dive to his right and make the save.
In the 28th minute, with Montreal circulating the ball around Atlanta’s box, Nacho Piatti received possession on the left, cut in towards the middle, and curled a shot towards the opposite top corner, but his attempt missed just over the bar.
Montreal got its best chance of the half in the 37th minute, when Bojan was able to get free of his man and find Daniel Lovitz on the left flank, who immediately crossed for Nacho Piatti in the box. The Argentine dribbled past his man and laid it off for Taïder to his right, but his shot from in close was parried away by Guzan.
“It was a special game, there were many good things and some not as good,” said centre-back Rod Fanni. “Even if we had won this game, it would not have been enough. It was still important to try and win this one and play well. I think we could have won tonight and manage the game better.”
Exchange of goals in the second
But finally, it was the visitors who grabbed the lead in the 53rd minute. After Julian Gressel passed to Emerson Hyndman in the box, he immediately gave it back to Gressel, who was able to slot it in past Diop and give his team the lead.
Montreal finally found an equalizer in the 81st minute, when Orji Okwonkwo, streaking down the right flank, beat his man and made his way in on goal, crossing for Bojan in front of goal. The Impact’s number 9 was able to redirect it past Guzan for his second goal in an Impact uniform.
“We put up a good performance today,” said Impact forward Bojan. “We tried everything on our end, but we played against a very good team. There are many things to assess and go over, but we should be really proud of the way we played tonight. We showed the right attitude and we had the right reaction after conceding.”
Clément Diop finished the night with five saves, including two key saves in the second half on Hector Villalba and Ezequiel Barco.
The Montreal Impact will bring the 2019 MLS regular season to an end on Sunday, October 6, on Decision Day, when it takes on the New York Red Bulls at Stade Saputo (TICKETS – TVA Sports, TSN, 98.5, TSN 690).
MTL – GK-Clément Diop; D-Bacary Sagna, Rod Fanni, Victor Cabrera, Daniel Lovitz; M-Samuel Piette, Saphir Taïder, Lassi Lappalainen (Maximiliano Urruti 60’), Clément Bayiha (Orji Okwonkwo 66’); F-Ignacio Piatti, Bojan
Subs not used – Evan Bush, Jukka Raitala, Rudy Camacho, Amar Sejdic, Shamit Shome
ATL – GK-Brad Guzan; D-Leandro González Pirez, Michael Parkhurst (Florentin Pogba 82’), Miles Robinson; M-Darlington Nagbe, Jeff Larentowicz, Julian Gressel, Justin Meram; F-Brandon Vázquez (Ezequiel Barco 63’), Emerson Hyndman, Gonzalo Martínez (Héctor Villalba 76’)
Subs not used – Alec Kann, Franco Escobar, Kevin Kratz, Dion Pareira
ATL – Gressel (Hyndman) 53’
MTL – Bojan (Okwonkwo) 81’