Montreal Impact head coach Marco Schällibaum liked his team’s attitude in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. He saw his players focused on working as a unit. He saw them display a will to pull themselves out of a worrying funk, given their playoff aspirations.
Alas, he also saw them suffer a 1-0 defeat in their second-ever meeting with the Galaxy. Schällibaum was nevertheless positive about the performance before dropping the inevitable “In football, only points count in the end.”
“I was happy, because we had a lot of young players that were really [involved] tonight,” Schällibaum told reporters at StubHub Center after the game. “I think that we deserved a point. Maybe not three, but some decisions, again, from the referee went against us. It’s a pity, because the performance from my team was very good today.”
With all five Montreal Impact Academy graduates on the gameday roster, youth was always going to be a factor. While the club’s first-ever draft pick Andrew Wenger got the first opportunity 100 seconds in, it was mostly the young backline that caught the eye.
Led by veteran Hassoun Camara, Academy products Karl Ouimette, Wandrille Lefèvre and Maxim Tissot joined forces in MLS for the first time after a successful CONCACAF Champions League outing at home against Heredia and four Reserve League games in 2013.
“Maybe Max [Tissot] struggled a bit physically at the end, but their right back [Sean Franklin] was good,” Schällibaum said. “I tip my hat to them. That’s why it hurts as well: If we’re worse than them and we lose without creating chances, OK. But today, we had something in our hands which we let slip.”
Thankfully for the Impact, MLS’ tiebreaking procedures provide some help: Should the New England Revolution fail to win against the Columbus Crew on Saturday, a 14th win for Montreal against the Philadelphia Union would be enough, finally relieving the pressure and guaranteeing Montreal’s playoff spot.
Talk of another "game of the season" is sure to pick up.
“That’s our reality: We’ve struggled for weeks now,” Schällibaum said. “But we can’t stop believing. It's clear: we have to win against Philadelphia.”