HARRISON, N.J. – Their September slump continues as the Montreal Impact were on the wrong side of a 1-0 loss at East rivals New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening.
The Impact now have just one point from four matches in the penultimate month of the regular season, part of a bad stretch of results that includes a single win from their last eight matches and a total of five points in that stretch.
To their credit, the Impact defended well against the Red Bulls and produced a handful of good counterattacks, particularly in the first half. In the seventh minute, Ignacio Piatti just missed on an effort and Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles did well several times in the first half to deny goal scoring opportunities. This included Piatti again in the 32nd minute after he broke free of Red Bulls right back Chris Duvall and had space to go in on goal.
For the opening 45 minutes, Montreal (9-10-11, 38pts) did well to keep the play in front of them and force the game out wide. But in the second half they got pulled apart and their back four lost their compact shape, the 59th minute goal by Daniel Royer one example of the holes they conceded.
“I think it’s not the difficult performances on the road, I think on the road we’ve done fairly well,” Impact coach Mauro Biello said. “I think we were in this game all the way until the end. I think it was exactly what we expected. [Piatti] scores that goal in the beginning of the game, it’s a different game. It’s at home where we have to set that up and where we’ve been having difficulties.”
But in Saturday's match at Red Bull Arena, the Impact showed few ideas other than to bunker down and counter. They managed just 38.4 percent of possession and had five shots to the Red Bulls' 13.
All too often in the match, Piatti was isolated on the wing with few runners in support. That forced Didier Drogba to drop back, drawing him on the wrong side of midfield and forcing him to playmake rather than play off the shoulders of the center back in the final third.
Drogba managed just a single shot in a match in which he mustered 46 touches. In sharp contrast to last year's stretch when he collected 11 goals in 11 appearances, Drogba has found his scoring form tough to come by this season (he has 10 goals in 21 appearances in 2016).
“He didn’t have preseason and coming in, the ups and downs of the season are sometimes difficult,” Biello said. “The second year, it’s always a more difficult one. Opposing defenders are getting ready to face him. At the end, he’s having chances at home to score goals. It’s about finding that bounce and hopefully it will turn for him.”