Groundhog Day? Not quite, but this latest Impact loss sure had a hint of déjà vu to it.
Montreal coughed up yet another spot kick this Wednesday, accounting for the only goal in a 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. That makes it three straight games the Impact have been whistled in the area – and this time there was no denying that forward Justin Braun had handled in the box.
The timing of the penalty, at the 13th minute, made life even more difficult for an Impact team playing its third away game in a row.
“On the road, you don’t want to concede, and it doesn’t matter at what time,” midfielder Collen Warner told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the game. “But when it comes so early, it makes things more difficult. It’s a bit unlucky for us, but I also think we can do better on second balls and after corners.”
Warner’s assessment of the work ahead is right, but Montreal’s performance was light years away from the grim 5-2 loss against the Red Bulls last Saturday. Whereas Jesse Marsch’s troops seemed to abdicate after conceding a second equalizer at Red Bull Arena, they showed much more combativeness in Utah and looked like they could actually get on the score sheet, especially during four minutes of frantic added time.
“Just to be able to turn around from a 5-2 loss in New York and come out in Salt Lake against a quality side in their home ... it tells us that our team’s chemistry is getting better, we’re connecting more, we’re getting our chances,” said defender Josh Gardner, who played every minute of the road trip. “We’ve been unlucky here and there, we’ve given up three penalties this year, so if you take those away, I think we were in every game, at that point.”
The Impact will now be looking at a Canadian derby on Saturday, as rivals Toronto FC visit Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (12 pm ET; TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in the US). And, says Gardner, the Impact will pull out all the stops.
“I think it’s going to be a battle,” Gardner offered. “They had a tough loss at Santos, they’re probably going to be tired. We’re just going to put tonight’s game behind us. We’ll be looking forward to coming back and looking forward to the battle and to getting three points at home.”
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