NEW YORK – It wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t need to be. The Montreal Impact needed to take something positive out of Wednesday night’s match with New York City FC following an emotional loss to Toronto FC on Saturday.
They accomplished that goal, albeit barely, with a 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium.
“The game against Toronto was devastating. I mean, to the fans, for us as a team, our confidence kind of went down a little bit,” Impact forward Dominic Oduro said after the match. “This tie really boosted us up a bit, especially since it was on the road.”
In a match in which the Impact had few scoring chances, Oduro made sure they came away with something. The veteran, who came on for Johan Venegas in the 63rd minute, shed his mark, latched onto a Didier Drogba free kick and put a diving header past Josh Saunders for the 91st-minute equalizer.
“For me, Dom Oduro has been a great asset for us in terms of what he brings,” Montreal coach Mauro Biello said. “He has that pace that’s able to put teams on their back heel and when he’s able to use that effectively he becomes very dangerous.”
Biello singled out his central defense pair of Laurent Ciman and Wandrille Lefevre for neutralizing NYCFC stars Andrea Pirlo and David Villa. Goalkeeper Evan Bush was also solid, pushing away all three of Villa’s shots on target.
Although Drogba was held scoreless for a second consecutive game, Biello said the fault lied more in the lack of service than the effort of his Designated Player.
“With Didier, he’s not 100 percent fit. It was more the service into Didier today that was lacking, I thought,” he said. “In the end he’s able to put a great free kick into the box to assist on that goal by Oduro. For Didier, it’s about finding his rhythm and getting 100 percent fit. Once he’s able to do that, he’s going to bring a lot to the game.”
Still, Drogba found a way to impact the game late and ensure the Impact remain atop the Eastern Conference.
“It wasn’t our best game, but we managed to get the tie,” Drogba said. “I think it was a huge show of character about this team. To be in trouble late on the road and to come back like that is really big for our team.”