MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact liked the way things were going in the first 30 minutes against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday: As Sporting struggled to find any kind of rhythm in their first game in 14 days, Montreal were showing shades of the defensively solid, ruthless counterattackers last seen on a consistent basis in early 2013.
Then Matt Besler’s long throw-in and Calum Mallace’s scalp inadvertently combined, and it was all downhill from there. Montreal spent the rest of the match chasing the game and conceded three goals in the final 20 minutes to finish on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline, tied for the worst margin of defeat in the club's MLS history.
The long-term issue exposed by Saturday's game was not so much allowing a goal from a throw-in as it was letting things unravel at the first sign of trouble.
“We’re unfortunate with the goal, but that, I think, is the defining moment for us where we kind of just crumbled,” goalkeeper Troy Perkins told reporters on Tuesday. “We gave up an unlucky goal, it takes a deflection off [Mallace], and you can see the shoulders drop and the heads go down, and it’s one of those things where, ‘Here we go again.’
"We can’t do that. We have to say, ‘You know what? Unlucky, we’re going to get one back.’”
Added head coach Frank Klopas: “Our mentality is almost like it’s the end of the world, and it can’t be like that. The game is 90 minutes. This is something we have to correct: making sure that, in a game, we can’t let one mistake bring us down.”
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On the flip side, maybe one brilliant play leading to a goal would buck them up. But while Montreal created chances in Kansas City, they failed to convert them.
The decision-making and ball control should have been better in KC, said Klopas, who nevertheless remains convinced that this work in progress will lead to results, which have so far eluded last-place Montreal (0-4-3, 3 pts). The Impact return to action on Saturday as the Philadelphia Union visit Stade Saputo (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
“I’m not a negative person,” Klopas said. “I’m very optimistic, and I can tell you that I’m just as enthusiastic now as on the first day, even though it’s like this. The season is long, and [in] the Eastern Conference right now, with one or two wins, everything changes.”