Clonk. Clonk. Clonk. Whoosh!
It was close, very close. Marco Di Vaio was still trying to find his balance when his strike bounced off the post, off the bar and off the other post. And then again: The assistant’s flag shot up for offside.
But for a second, the Montreal Impact believed they had mirrored what the San Jose Earthquakes put them through last weekend: a stoppage-time equalizer.
“My heart jumped a beat,” right back Jeb Brovsky told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “I thought he'd pulled it back.”
Alas, it wasn’t the case. Di Vaio got one back for the Impact, but a magnificent Thierry Henry brace ensured that Montreal were defeated by a score of 2-1 at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
Crucially, Montreal conceded the first goal of the encounter, which had happened only twice before in all competitions in 2013. But it had ended badly every time, and this one stung.
“All I remember is us coming into the locker room as players and saying that it shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” Brovsky recalled. “This counterattack shouldn’t have happened. I’m replaying the play in my head; I was up the wing a bit, we lost the ball in the middle … It’s replaying in my head and it gets more and more frustrating.”
The sequence that led to that first goal, Brovsky pointed out, “took the wind out of our sails” as the Impact felt it came very much against the run of play.
“After the first half, we were disappointed in the locker room, because I thought we put together a very solid first 45,” he added. “I think that was a consensus on the team that we played close to a perfect half and were unlucky not to finish a handful of chances. One counterattack changed the game.”
And change the game it did. Taking the game to the Red Bulls proved tricky. Montreal had a number of opportunities to tie it up before Henry’s spectacular second. But most attempts didn’t quite come off.
“I thought the combinations around the box were what was going to get us goals,” Brovsky said. “You saw Justin [Mapp] and Marco connect on a very good one, but I think maybe that final pass and that final run off the ball were missing. When we did it, we were very effective, very dangerous, but you have to do it over the course of 90 minutes instead of just when you're down 2-0.”