The stats baffled Montreal head coach Frank Klopas on Saturday at PPL Park. Though his Impact dominated the Philadelphia Union in shots, corners, crosses, passes, and possession, they once again fell short in the most important category: Goals.
Union forward Sébastien Le Toux topped that column, scoring both Philadelphia goals to hand Montreal a 2-1 loss. For the Impact, that means seven straight league defeats and a 13-point gulf from playoff entrants.
“Obviously, there are still a lot of games to play, but I’m also thinking about the moves and what we have to do in order to get better for next season,” Klopas told reporters postgame. “There’s some good pieces there, and we have to get better in certain areas. That’s what’s on my mind right now, because if I look at anything else, it’s mind-boggling how we lost this game.”
What Klopas can build on is the performance of his three substitutes, all of whom earned his praise.
Klopas made a double switch in the 67th minute, bringing on Dilly Duka – who joined Montreal on July 29 – and Anthony Jackson-Hamel – a Homegrown Player signed on Aug. 1. Eight minutes later he subbed on Maxim Tissot, another HGP. In the 79th, Tissot cut the lead in half, smartly redirecting a superb Andres Romero diagonal ball.
“When you’re called upon to go on the field from the bench, you have to bring some energy,” Tissot told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “The three players that came on, that’s what we did. We created chances, and it’s a shame that we didn’t score another.”
The Impact were most threatening during the 12-minute spell between the double switch and Tissot’s goal, giving Philadelphia nothing and pushing forward with youthful exuberance. Jackson-Hamel nearly pulled off a Goal of the Week candidate in the 70th, but saw his backheel effort cruelly bounce off the far post.
On another day, youth may have secured a point. But in the 12th minute, the Impact dug themselves a hole, with Krzysztof Król nodding Zac MacMath’s goal kick back toward goalkeeper Troy Perkins only for Le Toux to run onto it and stab in Krol’s wayward header.
Getting out of said hole proved tough: of Montreal’s 11 shots, five came before Duka and Jackson-Hamel came on. The other six came in those 12 minutes.
“Philadelphia were leading two goals to one,” Tissot said. “They were defending, waiting for us. It allowed us to keep the ball and put more pressure on them. They cleared the ball onto our center backs, our midfielders, so we recovered and attacked at once. We brought good energy in the end, and we wanted to equalize even though we didn’t.”