One fluffed backpass, and the mood changed in an instant.
A score draw in Edmonton would have been an unspectacular, bittersweet, but adequate result for the Montreal Impact in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal. Yet a moment of distraction from young center back Karl W. Ouimette – who otherwise put in a fine effort – handed FC Edmonton the 2-1 win on Wednesday night.
“We had some good chances and stuff like that, but the goals we gave up are unacceptable,” Impact head coach Frank Klopas told reporters after the game. “In the end, you come all this way, and the way the game was, you feel, at 1-1, you walk away, OK, you’re going back home. But to lose the game, it’s not a good feeling right now.”
Montreal struggled to find their rhythm with their previously unseen XI. Goalkeeper Evan Bush and winger Blake Smith got their first starts of the season, Heath Pearce played his first shift at center back for Montreal and Jack McInerney was the lone striker.
But McInerney, who clinched a 56th minute away goal off a 40-yard Patrice Bernier free kick, agreed with Klopas that this new mix of players was no excuse. He thought the Impact simply failed to put their foot on the gas pedal.
“Our transitions from when they dumped balls, we won a lot of the second balls and had the ball, and we didn’t transition from defense into going forward,” McInerney told MLSsoccer.com by phone when asked what hadn’t worked in Edmonton.
“And once we got that first goal, the game opened up a bit, and we could have gone forward and finished them off 2-0, 3-0. But they pushed, they got one and it cost us.”
And yet, for all the sad faces there may be on the bus back to their Edmonton hotel, Montreal are only a 1-0 home win from progressing to the final. But they’ll need to play like the ACC champions – which they intend to remain.
“At the end of the day, it’s not a bad result, but just a simple mistake costs us a draw,” McInerney said. “We really thought we could come in and get the win. But now, I think we can really just fix a couple of mistakes, put the game behind us and we’ll be all right at home.”
Added Klopas: “We’re still going home at 2-1. We’re feeling confident about that. But we never should have given up the goals that we did today.”