This was the perfect example of how a tie can be frustrating. Coming into the game the Montreal Impact was in a playoff spot, but not in a good way. They had experienced their worst loss and most pathetic effort of the season the game before against the Chicago Fire, a team who had not won on the road since the 2014 season. Before their fans the Impact really laid an egg and lost against a team behind them in the standings. Coach Mauro Biello in his post-game interview apologized to fans for the team’s lack of effort. Things were looking bleak. The team members had a closed door players only meeting shortly afterwards to try and get things back on track. Now for their second of three games in an 8 day period they were at home against a team beneath them in the standings. Could they right the ship was the question on everyone’s minds?
The answer to that question is yes and no. The Impact came out and played a strong game, especially in the 2nd half, only denied a win by a strong game by opposing keeper, Bill Hamid. At the same time they ended a two game losing streak. The no refers to the fact that they only earned a tie and dropped more important points at home. These points are especially important as their next game will be against the East’s top team Toronto on the road.
On July 31st the two sides met in Washington to a 1-1 draw when newcomer Hernan Bernadello scored late in the game after Didier Drogba had earned a red card forcing Montreal to play with 10 men. D.C. is a team that sits back deep and counters. Montreal knows that and would have to come up with something to break them down. Patience is required, but also the ability to know when to go in quickly for the kill.
Probably in an effort to shake things up and also an acknowledgement of their heavy schedule of late, Biello made some changes in the starting line-up. First off, central defender Victor Cabrera was relegated to the bench with Hassoun Camara moving to the middle and Danny Toia coming back in on the outside. Cabrera had been having troubles of late, so it was time for him to take a break. Recent signee Matteo Mancosu was back on the bench and Michael Salazar reinserted to the starting eleven. The most surprising was that Johan Venegas was back in the midfield. Surprising because the Costa Rican had fallen out of favour of late due to his non-production. This could be seen as his last, last chance to prove himself.
The 1st half saw, as expected, Montreal controlling most of the ball, but the domination of possession did not result in any clear cut chances. On the plus side the home side did not allow D.C. United much of anything other than a couple of corners. That is until the late stages when there was a controversial penalty called against Montreal. Referee Robert Sibiga awarded a penalty shot on a Toia tackle inside the box on Patrick Nyarko. It was obvious to everyone but the referee that the D.C. player had embellished. Montreal keeper Evan Bush was furious at the call and his protest to the linesman earned him a yellow card. Former Impact player Lamar Neagle stepped up to the spot, had Bush guessing the wrong way and calmly put the ball into the empty left side of the net. 1-0 D.C. United.
Coming out in the 2nd half Montreal was a more intense side and put plenty of pressure on Hamid. Hamid had been called upon once (11th minute he got an arm on an Ignacio Piatti toe poke) or twice in the 1st half, but it was the 2nd in which he shone. In the 55th minute in one of Venegas’ last actions before he was subbed off for Dominic Oduro, the midfielder got his head on the ball at the edge of the 6 yard box only to be denied by Hamid, who had to reach back to slap the ball away. In the 66th minute there was a chance off a patent Drogba chest and turn play that saw him in alone, though at a sharp angle, and the D.C. keeper stayed big and the strong shot caromed out of play for a corner off his left arm. 19 shots were directed by Montreal at the D.C. net. Piatti and Moncosu also had chances that went just wide plus the Impact hit the post twice.
The Montreal pressure finally was rewarded with a goal by Camara in the 77th minute. Forcing Neagle into a giveaway, Donadel looped a ball over to the advanced central defender who got a strong header to it. The diving header by the Frenchman had the game leveled. 1-1. D.C. United was quite happy with the point on the road and were going to waste as much of the remaining time as they could whereas Montreal was looking for a winner.
Late game drama came in the 89th minute in the form of a straight red being issued to D.C.’s Kofi Opare for a crunching tackle on Donadel. There really, however, wasn’t enough time for Montreal to exploit the visitors going down to 10 men. The score remained 1-1.
Goals: 1st Half:
39th minute: D.C. United – Lamar Neagle (pk)
77th minute: Montreal – Hassoun Camara assisted by Marco Donadel
-Shots on Goal: Montreal – 4
D.C. United – 2
-Corners: Montreal – 9
D.C. United – 5
-Final Score: Montreal – 1
D.C. United – 1