MONTREAL - Three road points. They were almost there.
83rd minute: Montreal are 1-0 up thanks to Jack McInerney and hanging on just fine. It looks like it will take a sudden moment of inspiration for D.C. United to grab a point.
But Fabian Espindola had already warned that he could provide just that. And in the 84th, Eddie Johnson leaps as Espindola's cross reaches him, at last nodding in his first goal of the season.
Hope thus gave way to slight disappointment, but still, in the circumstances, the Impact can build on Saturday night's 1-1 draw, insisted head coach Frank Klopas.
"You go on the road, I think you have to create chances, you have to finish your chances," Klopas told reporters postgame. "And then, you have to be a little bit lucky, just like they were in the end. It's something to build on. It would have been great to have gotten the three points. Where we are, it would have been huge for us."
Klopas praised the group effort after the game, complimenting almost each of his players individually without being prompted to do so. Perhaps no one exemplified the Impact's two-way effort better than Montreal's front three of Sanna Nyassi, Jack McInerney and Justin Mapp, three of six Montreal players starting their third game in eight days.
As usual, Nyassi was a handful for the opposition's back four, but he's also been working increasingly hard defensively. He continued on this path on Saturday, making four interceptions, two clearances and three recoveries. McInerney scored again and delivered intelligent movement, and Justin Mapp was, well, Justin Mapp - he assisted a McInerney goal for the third time this week.
"Today, [Nyassi] was very sharp," Klopas said. "He was very good. He helped the team without the ball, very dangerous going forward. Justin, again, what a difference he makes on the field. I thought everyone worked hard. Jack, he's a striker, he finds his moments, he scores. That's what we needed to do."
And after a hectic stretch of MLS and Amway Canadian Championship games, Montreal will have a full week to prepare their next outing, away at Colorado Rapids, before the schedule gets busy again.
"Now, we've got to keep working and go on the road," Klopas said. "We're close. Maybe the next one is the one where we get the result that we need on the road, the three points."