The Montreal Impact want the second half of their season to be unlike what preceded it. But that was not the first step they were looking for.
This Saturday’s fixture at the Columbus Crew looked, on paper, a winnable game, as Jack McInerney put it last week. Winless in seven, the Crew hadn’t even led a game since May 31, in a 3-2 loss against Toronto FC.
But they got a lead all right on Saturday, and unlike Montreal, they held on to it for a 2-1 win.
“It’s hard, it’s difficult, because you're always looking forward to the next game, and you say this is the moment,” head coach Frank Klopas told reporters postgame. “But it’s just games like this, that you feel like you’ve got to get something out of it, and we’re not.”
It was the Impact’s second defeat of the season after scoring the first goal. And it was actually a fine combination between Justin Mapp, who intercepted a wayward Michael Parkhurst pass, and Marco Di Vaio, who danced around Giancarlo Gonzalez before placing his finish at the far post. But a pair of second-half goals from Bernardo Anor ultimately put the Crew ahead, and they held off the Impact long enough to record the victory.
But Montreal still ended up with a 13th straight road game without a win. Klopas thought both teams had chances from the run of play – Mapp and McInerney were mentioned – but recognized that this one was lost in midfield, his team failing to win enough 50-50 balls.
“I think [not winning duels and second balls] was the key, because I think we had our chances on the road,” Klopas said. “And when you’re up 1-0 and then you have two our three to make it 2-0…Anor scored two great shots and they went in, but I think we could have stepped in on him a little bit quicker and we didn’t.”
The question thus remains the same, in general and in press conferences. How do the Impact turn things around? How do they move on and find that “moment” Klopas referred to?
“We have to look at everything,” Klopas said. “At the end of the day, I’m the coach, and it’s my responsibility. But we all have to look at ourselves and just say ‘You know what? When things don’t go well, we have to make hard decisions and make changes.’"