MONTREAL -- Once again, Laurent Ciman and Ignacio Piatti were the main attractions at Stade Saputo.

But unlike in previous MLS seasons, Ciman helped Los Angeles FC weather a first-half storm in a 5-3 win Saturday against the Montreal Impact, who traded him to the first-year expansion team.

Ciman acknowledged the challenge of covering Piatti, his former teammate, who scored a hat trick that gave the Impact a 3-1 lead despite being down a man in the first half for a second time in three games.

“It’s difficult, we knew that,” Ciman said. “I don’t think we did it very well today. We left him too much space. On the third goal I decided to play for the offside, I don’t know whether he was, it was close, but I think I should have covered him, I shouldn’t have played for the offside at that level. But we have a tight team, we never give up, and we showed that today. Even though [Montreal goalkeeper Evan] Bush played an extraordinary game, we were able to win. That was the most important thing, to win.”

Said Los Angeles coach Bob Bradley: “In the first half, it’s not the adjustments, it’s that in different situations we don’t step up and so we allowed too much space between our defenders and our midfielders. And the way they started out playing with the two attacking midfielders going out to the half spaces and then Piatti having freedom to float around, we just weren’t aggressive enough and we paid for it.”

April 21, 2018

But with Los Angeles trailing 2-0, Ciman scored on a free kick 24 minutes in, drawing another standing ovation from the crowd of 20,302, which cheered him when he was shown on the video board prior to kickoff.

“I thought about my wife and my children because that was the first thing that came to my mind,” Ciman said. “And today I had the good fortune to score on that free kick. … Listen, today was a perfect day for me, in the atmosphere before the game during the warmup, and the atmosphere during the game, and the atmosphere after the game. I was cheered when I scored. Montreal is always in my heart.”

Los Angeles scored four second-half goals for their fourth win in six straight road games.

“It was an emotional day to come back to Montreal and all his teammates knew how much this game meant to him,” Bradley said of Ciman. “So to see him score at that point and then of course even when we all come in after the game, his emotion, we love what he brings to our team and today we’re very proud and happy for him.”