For a time on Saturday night, it seemed like the Montreal Impact could win on the road for a second consecutive year in their season opener. But with a different strategy.
A year ago, they sat deep in beating the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. On Saturday, they came out and did the opposite, by pressing an FC Dallas backline that looked wobbly – especially when Justin Mapp and Sanna Nyassi combined with shocking ease for the game’s first goal.
But FCD found gaps that Seattle didn’t in 2013, as Fabián Castillo, Blas Pérez and Mauro Díaz all made huge contributions in condemning the Impact to a 3-2 loss at Toyota Stadium.
“It’s going to be hard to win when you give up three goals,” Montreal head coach Frank Klopas told reporters after the game. “There were soft goals, especially the free kick when they called a handball on Hernán [Bernardello] – his hands were tucked in.
"There were goals in situations that we could have avoided and handled better. We just have to go back to training, watch the tape, correct things and get ready.”
The tape will also remind Klopas of certain things on which he’ll be happy to build. For a start, the visitors put nine shots on target, some of which drew tricky saves from Chris Seitz.
On an individual level, Andrew Wenger provided, in the absence of Marco Di Vaio, a fine performance all around, showing prowess with his back to goal and scoring in the second half. Nyassi improved on his preseason form, though his exit after Kellyn Acosta inadvertently kicked the ball straight into his face may be worrying.
“We pushed the game, so I’m happy about that,” Klopas said. “We created chances. Early on, we could have been at least one or two up. But I think that we have to limit the goals. It’s going to be difficult, because we scored two goals on the road and had many more chances, and you figure that you’ve got to walk away with points.”
Montreal very well could have, as they regained their early resolve to such an extent that even center back Hassoun Camara indulged in a foray into the Dallas half in the 86th minute.
“We were never really out of it, the whole game,” rookie fullback Eric Miller told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the game. “We were always pushing forward, and we found a lot of chances. I think it’s something to be happy with, and hopefully we can keep bringing this until the end of the season.”