Interesting game folks! Featuring two teams on good streaks. Both started the MLS slowly and now are heating up in the run towards the playoffs. Montreal, on a three game winning streak, started the game in 7th place in the East though with a win they would leap into a playoff position for the first time this season. Real Salt Lake are also on an undefeated streak and are in 8th place in the West.
Because this was the team’s third game in eight days coach Mauro Biello tinkered with his starting 11. By tinkering I mean he changed five players. Victor Cabrera, Chris Duvall, Dominic Oduro, Patrice Bernier, and Matteo Mancosu were taken out with Kyle Fisher, Hassoun Camara, Michael Salazar, Louis Beland-Goyette, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel. were inserted. For Beland-Goyette it was only his second start in the MLS.
A victory here would not only mean a playoff spot for Montreal, but the first time they have won 4 games in a row since 2013. Many expected this to be a defensive battle between the two sides yet it was anything but. Though through the first couple of minutes the game unfolded with two teams studying each other. That, however, did not last for long.
In the game’s 3rd minute a pass from Salazar to Ignacio Piatti, who was wearing the captain’s armband, inside the box springs him, but no shot came as a Real Salt Lake defender got back quickly. It was a sign of things to come. Montreal continued to find space behind the RSL defense, which is the 3rd worst in the league.
Bad news for the RSL defense was that in the 6th minute Marcelo Silva had to be subbed out due to an injury to his right thigh. David Horst came in to play in his place. It did not start out well for Horst as he was left in the dust by Jackson-Hamel after he was sent in alone on keeper Rimando due to some good passing between Salazar and Piatti. Unfortunately for the Quebec native his second touch let him down allowing Rimando to just collect the ball.
At just the 11th minute Montreal scored the game’s first goal. Of course it was Piatti. The man has been amazing of late putting real pressure on the management of the Impact due to the fact that his contract runs out after this season. Jackson-Hamel used his big body to protect the ball at the midfield line and deftly played the ball off to a streaking Blerim Dzemaili. He went along the right side for a bit then spying an unmarked Piatti in the box, played a square ball to the Argentinian, who just one timed it into the net. 1-0 Montreal. It was the 4th game in a row with a goal for Piatti and allowed former Montreal player Lloyd Barker to ring the 1642 bell in celebration.
The Impact did not slow down offensively after their opening mark. Jackson-Hamel once again was playmaker again for Dzemaili. Dzemaili danced around Sunny, who was all over his back, and showed his strength by remaining on his feet. Then launched a shot that did not go over the bar by much. Montreal is playing like a team with a lot of confidence. All of them.
Despite all the chances and confidence, Real Salt Lake scored next. In the 26th minute the most impressive and dangerous of the RSL players on this evening, Luis Silva completed a 1-2 with Albert Rusnak by blasting a ferocious shot from a sharp angle that beat Evan Bush high on the short side. 1-1.
It did not take the Impact long to regain their lead. Three minutes actually. In the 29th Piatti had a brace. This time it was another Impact Academy product, midfielder Beland-Goyette who slotted a smart through ball to Camara along the right side. He finds Salazar who misplays the ball, but it finds its way to Jackson-Hamel with his back to the net. Quickly he finds an open Piatti. From close in and a sharp angle he uses his weaker left foot to strike the ball finding the far side of the net for a goal. 2-1 Montreal. 14th goal of the season for Piatti and his 10th at Saputo. He is now 3rd, behind David Villa and Bradley Wright-Phillips, in league scoring. Proving again this season that he is one of the elite players in this league.
Since the signing of defensive midfielder Samuel Piette the Montreal defense has been more organized. There are still a few signs of wobbly play, however. In the 35th minute, the man they call the General, Laurent Ciman needlessly coughed the ball up and Kyle Beckerman had a free shot on net which did not go over by much. Thankfully it was Beckerman because he is not known as a goal scorer.
Showing that they could not fall asleep despite their lead especially in regards to the dangerous Silva, in the 43rd minute Bush had to made a good reflex right leg save off a deflection by Silva.
Starting off the 2nd half it was on the minds of everyone in the stadium that Montreal would need to score a third goal to fully control this game with all the open play and offensive chances that were occurring. In short order they did just that. This time it was Jackson-Hamel. This was totally a locally produced goal. Piette started it just inside the RSL half finding Beland-Goyette. The young midfielder advanced into all the space in front of him then put a ball behind the Real Salt Lake defense for Jackson-Hamel to run onto. He got there first then blasted a high shot into the top part of the net. 3-1 Montreal.
Though this was the last goal of the game that did not mean it reverted to a defensive battle. Anything but. Both sides had chances to score. On the RSL side it was Silva on several occasions. He really could have had three or four goals on the day. In the 54th minute Dzemaili in another show of skill and strength hit the post to the right of Rimando. In the 56th minute Piatti put another ball into the net only to be ruled offside. Finally, in the dying minutes of the game Salazar though he had a goal only to see his rolling ball cleared by Justen Glad just before it crossed the line. Never a dull moment in this wide open game.
With the three points for the win the Impact move into 6th place. They are tied with the Columbus Crew with 36 points, but they do have two games in hand on the 5th place side. Next up for Montreal will be their top rivals Toronto FC next Sunday afternoon at Saputo Stadium, which is once again becoming Fortress Saputo.
- Referee: Chris Penso
- Assistant Referee: Kathryn Nesbitt, Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
-Goals: 1st Half:
11th minute: Montreal – Ignacio Piatti assisted by Blerim Dzemaili and Anthony Jackson-Hamel
26th minute: Real Salt Lake – Luis Silva assisted by Albert Rusnak
29th minute: Montreal – Ignacio Piatti assisted by Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Michael Salazar
47th minute: Montreal – Anthony Jackson-Hamel assisted by Louis Beland-Goyette
-Shots on Goal: Montreal – 4
Real Salt Lake – 6
-Corners: Montreal – 0
Real Salt Lake – 2
-Man of the Match: Ignacio Piatti
-Final Score: Montreal – 3
Real Salt Lake – 1