Marco Schällibaum had predicted that Toronto FC would want to hurt his team. In the end, it’s fair to say that both sides did some damage.
Seventeen points ahead of their rivals coming into Wednesday’s game, the Montreal Impact were looking at their best opportunity yet to register a first-ever win at BMO Field, where TFC haven’t picked up all three points in nearly a year. Still, the Reds achieved a three-goal combo for the first time in 2013 in a near-perfect first half.
But sometimes, you just have to claw your way back, and if Montreal’s second-half goals weren’t enough to hurt TFC with a result, the manner certainly did the trick in this thrilling 3-3 tie.
“Given the circumstances, after a first half that was very bad, slow and devoid of emotion, we showed a lot of character, emotion and aggression in the second half,” assistant coach Mauro Biello told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Toronto. “We were able to catch up, and we can say a tie is good for us, considering that first half.”
It was a first half performance that stung the Impact. Up 1-0 after 23 seconds thanks to a strike from Andrés Romero – the fifth-fastest goal ever in MLS – they then looked exactly like the team they didn’t want to be coming into this game: defensively stretched, overrun in midfield and hurried into losing the ball cheaply.
“Toronto pressed us high and we struggled to cope,” Biello said. “We lost balls in bad spots, they had lots of energy and will, and they managed to score goals. We can't leave spaces like that, especially in our defensive third. We said how we were going to tighten things up, close down space, and we were slow to react.”
Montreal didn’t tighten up much in the first quarter-hour of the second half, though, and it was up to Biello to respond. Four minutes after the second of two substitutions, the Impact had swiftly inflicted two wounds to the Reds.
“I thought we looked a bit slow and tired in the middle,” Biello said. “I wanted to add some more energy, and Collen Warner came on with lots of rhythm and drive. He changed the game in a way with his energy. He won lots of balls, started attacks and did a good defensive job.”