It’s roughly half past nine in the evening at Toyota Park outside Chicago, and at 21 years of age, left back Maxim Tissot has just headed in his first goal in MLS.
It’s the first-ever by a Montreal Impact Academy player, and he’s scored it playing out of position.
Yet for a short while, he looks unfazed, incredulous almost, as teammate Daniele Paponi places his hands on Tissot’s still impeccable head of hair for congratulations.
“At first, I wanted to celebrate, but I thought I’d pick the ball so we could try and score another and win the game,” Tissot told MLSsoccer.com by phone after Montreal’s 2-2 draw against the Fire. “Then I looked at Paponi, and he made a ‘No’ gesture with his finger. I thought I was offside, so I looked at the official to confirm, and really, I didn’t really realize I’d scored. Even now, I haven’t realized it.”
However, Tissot did end up grasping Paponi’s message: “You’ve made it 2-2 away from home. Relax.” There would be a few more nervy minutes, but Montreal and Tissot held on for a tie that pleases the team in more ways than one.
“We’re leaving with a draw at a time when points aren’t just crucial for us, but for them as well,” Tissot said. “They needed three points. They’re now on 40. It’s going to be a bit tougher for them with only four games left. It helps us, but it also get in the way of teams behind us.”
Montreal managed not to repeat the slow start they’d had in Chicago, scoring through Marco Di Vaio’s tenacious finish on a carefully placed Davy Arnaud through ball. But things unraveled in the second half, and Tissot admitted to some disappointment at losing the halftime lead.
First, Mike Magee pounced on yet another lucky bounce in the Montreal area – not unlike Tissot for his goal – and later took advantage of some adventurous Troy Perkins dribbling to complete the turnaround. Then, Magee stepped up to the spot when Perkins took Patrick Nyarko out in the 79th minute.
But Magee didn’t score. He hit the frame, setting the scene for some late heroics from a brand new hero in Montreal.
“We reacted in the best way possible: scoring a goal,” Tissot said of the crazy sequence. “Maybe a month or two ago, they would have killed the game and we would have been done for tonight. But in the last few games, we’ve shown a lot more combativeness. And it showed late on.”