Montreal head coach Jesse Marsch had said it earlier this week: he could have handled his substitutions better against FC Dallas and was determined to do just that on Wednesday against D.C. United. The problem is that the game of soccer played a nasty prank on him.
Marsch was awaiting a stoppage for midfielder Patrice Bernier to be sent on in order to maintain the Impact’s 1-0 lead. It was Maicon Santos, however, who provided him with the required break, as he released a fine shot past Donovan Ricketts’ outstretched hand and into the bottom corner of the net.
Entrusted with bringing a calm presence in midfield for his teammates to rely upon, Bernier was now going to do whatever he could to preserve the Impact's precious first-ever away point.
“We didn’t manage the last game well,” Bernier told MLSSoccer.com by phone from the US capital. “Having taken the lead, my goal was, since we’ve not played as well in the later stages of games recently as we do in the early stages, to come on and calm things down, start to build up plays again. We knew the other team would push and allow us to counter.
“Unfortunately we allowed the 1-1 goal as I was coming on. We had to make sure we left with a point and not relive the Dallas scenario [Montreal conceded two goals in the last 15 minutes and lost 2-1].”
Santos’ strike means the Impact have lost a lead for a fourth time this season, with still a lone win against rivals Toronto FC to show for their overall efforts.
Lamar Neagle, who also came on as a substitute and delivered a pinpoint cross for Bernardo Corradi to head in, feels that leaving D.C. with three points was a realistic expectation following the Italian’s goal.
Neagle admits Montreal’s problems when it comes to managing a lead are becoming very frustrating indeed.
“The way we played, it feels like, for long stretches of time, we play good possession, control the game, and then there's always a kind of lapse,” Neagle admitted. “We need to find a way to put together a full 90 minutes, control the game and play the way we want to play.”