The Montreal Impact are in uncharted territory. The New York Red Bulls are feeling that familiar playoff heartbreak.
In the second leg of the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday at Red Bull Arena, the Impact surged to a 2-1 victory behind two goals from Ignacio Piatti, sending them to the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time in club history.
The Red Bulls, who last reached MLS Cup in 2008, will see another postseason run end early after finishing atop the Eastern Conference for the third time in the last four regular seasons.
Montreal, who led 1-0 coming in thanks to a Matteo Mancosu goal in the opening leg at Stade Saputo, scored the first goal of the game – and the first away goal of the series – on a Piatti blast in the 51st minute.
That crucial strike left the Red Bulls needing three goals to advance due to the away-goal tiebreaker, and they pulled one back on a deflected goal from Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 78th minute.
But the Impact sealed it in the 85th, when Piatti completed his brace on a pass from Didier Drogba – who was making his first appearance since September 28.
The Red Bulls, unbeaten in 16 games heading into the playoffs, had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 20th minute after Gonzalo Veron picked the pocket of Victor Cabrera and was taken down in the box for a penalty by Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush. But Bush got his revenge by saving Sacha Kljestan’s PK attempt and preventing RBNY from grabbing the momentum.
- 51' — MTL — Ignacio Piatti (Dominic Oduro)
- 77' — NY — Bradley Wright-Phillips (Daniel Royer, Damien Perrinelle)
- 85' — MTL — Ignacio Piatti (Didier Drogba, Dominic Oduro)
- Full box score
- Watch highlights
MTL: Eastern Conference Championship first leg vs. Toronto FC (Tuesday 11/22, Time TBD)