HARRISON, N.J. – The Montreal Impact are on the precipice of playoff qualification, but a 2-1 loss at the hands of the New York Red Bulls has made their road a little more complicated. Wednesday night’s defeat is Montreal’s second in a row, keeping Orlando City SC and New York City FC in the hunt; if only mathematically.
An early red card changed the complexion of the match as former Red Bulls defender Ambroise Oyongo was sent off in the 15th minute for handling a shot off the goal line. New York gladly made use of the man advantage to take the lead over the LA Galaxy in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.
In a match that saw referee Ted Unkel point to the spot three times, it was Red Bulls who came out on top despite only converting one of their two chances on the night.
After a wild sequence that saw Montreal desperately defending their own goal, Oyongo rashly handled a goal-bound shot away from net which earned him an early trip to the showers. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan stepped up from 12 yards and slotted down the middle to beat Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush.
Just ten minutes later, the Red Bulls had a chance to double their lead as RBNY winger Lloyd Sam drew the team’s second penalty of the night. Once again, it was Kljestan standing over the spot kick. After some gamesmanship from Didier Drogba, Kljestan could not manage to beat Bush a second time.
The Red Bulls did manage to get their second before the stroke of halftime, extending their lead in the 40th minute. Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips rounded Bush but had his shot stopped by Impact defender Donny Toia. The deflection, however, fell fortuitously for Sam and the Englishman’s deft chip found the back of an empty net.
A week after keeping Golden Boot leader Kei Kamara silent, the Red Bulls could not manage to do the same to Drogba as the Ivory Coast international made his presence felt in the second half. It was his free kick to the far post that drew the third penalty of the match. Drogba made no mistake with his penalty, slotting a perfect shot past Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.
Both teams threatened in the latter stages of the match, but a fourth goal would not come. Next up for the Red Bulls is a trip north to take on Toronto FC on October 14, while the Impact face a quick turnaround and another road trip as they head west to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday (6 pm ET, MLS LIVE).