It appears the red card is the Montreal Impact’s Trojan horse: While it might look like an attractive gift, it eventually leads to their own downfall.
The Impact have now lost three times this month in all competitions to a shorthanded side which manages to score, the Colorado Rapids 3-2 win on Saturday the latest occurrence.
Tyrone Marshall's dismissal gave a proactive Impact the ascendency in the 61st minute, but Montreal allowed a third goal on a somewhat controversial set play. Substitute goalkeeper Greg Sutton tried to tip a Scott Palgutta header over the bar, but the ball bounced twice on the metal before coming back in front of the net for Jaime Castrillón to nod in what was, in essence, a perfectly good goal.
One small caveat: It seemed referee Mark Kadlecik had whistled and pointed for a corner before allowing the goal to stand.
Full Highlights: COL 3, MTL 2
"We all heard the whistle go for a corner, and while I haven’t watched the game, it seems the referee signaled for it, too,” a disappointed Patrice Bernier told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “The other team didn’t create many chances in the run of play, but they got three set plays. The referee sees what he sees. We gave them a chance to punish us.”
Despite the controversy, the fact remains that the Impact fell victim to three set plays in a game they otherwise managed quite well. Excused from cup duties in the next weeks, the team will have time to work on defending in those situations, said midfielder Collen Warner.
“If you take out the free kicks and the penalty, they maybe created one chance,” Warner pointed out. “It’s just disappointing when it happens like that because it’s something that’s preventable.”
Generally speaking, however, the Impact midfielders sounded happy with their performance. With head coach Jesse Marsch sending an experimental 4-2-3-1 on the field, the chance for Felipe, Warner and Bernier — who had only played 17 minutes together before Saturday — to prove they can be a reliable midfield triumvirate seems to have been taken.
Bernier, who scored in the first half and added an assist in the second, seemed particularly upbeat to have been able to play 90 minutes with both Felipe and Warner, as they, like him, enjoy possession of the ball.
“The coach had mentioned putting us out together, but that time hadn’t come," Bernier said. "I’d been thinking about this for some time, and today, the way we played in the midfield, it went really well. We controlled most of the game. We’ll see as the season goes along, but those two guys I get along well with and we showed some good things despite the result.”