If absence makes the heart grow fonder, the San Jose Earthquakes will leave Montreal fonder of Steven Lenhart than ever before.
The big, bruising striker’s altercation with Impact defender Hassoun Camara in the 21st minute of Saturday night's content earned both players a red card. And although the Quakes took the lead on the ensuing penalty kick from Chris Wondolowski, they struggled the rest of the night en route to a 3-1 loss on their first-ever visit to Stade Saputo.
Full Match Highlights
“We looked good when it was 11-v-11 out there,” manager Frank Yallop said after the game. “We were moving the ball and creating some early chances. But the game changed when it was 10-v-10, and they did well to handle the situation better.”
The red card changed the game tactically for the Quakes more than for the Impact. Montreal were able to shuffle their backline, while San Jose — who missed US international striker Alan Gordon through suspension — were forced play without a true target man.
“It was tough losing Steven,” right back Steven Beitashour said after the match. “Without him up top, Wondo had it tough with three defenders around him. They took their chances when they had them, and we couldn’t connect in the final third.”
San Jose actually won the possession battle, 54.1 percent to 45.9 percent, but they did indeed struggle to string passes together as they approached the Montreal area. They were outshot 17-11 overall and 7-3 on goal, and they won only two corner kicks on the night.
The Earthquakes remain in first place in the Western Conference, but now have three losses and a draw in their last four road matches. Yallop remains optimistic about his side’s road form over the long haul — they are one of only two sides with a winning record away from home — but is happy they will return to Buck Shaw Stadium next weekend to face Colorado, even if they will be without Lenhart.
“All the teams in the league are pretty equal, so it is never easy to win away from home,” Yallop said. “Montreal played well tonight and took advantage of their chances. We took it on the chin a bit tonight, but we will regroup, and we are looking forward to Colorado at home next weekend.”