TORONTO – There were jokes making the rounds when the lineups were announced: 'How many will Montreal win by?' But come the final whistle, it was no laughing matter.
Montreal Impact lost the opening leg of the 2016 Amway Canadian Championship semifinals to Toronto FC at BMO Field on Wednesday night by a 4-2 scoreline, despite a marked disparity in their favor 'on paper'.
“It was disappointing to come out that way,” said Impact coach Mauro Biello in his post-match press conference. “Toronto wanted the game more, you could see that in the first half.”
“We were second to everything, too casual in the back. It isn’t like they controlled and dominated, or put us under pressure. It was just getting beat to the ball. Two crosses into the box and we were sleeping then they score.”
Biello refused to admit that his players overlooked a TFC side stripped of its stars.
“We knew it would be a difficult game,” he said. “It’s not about who’s playing and who’s not playing, it is about competing every night and focusing on the task.”
“We didn't know how to take this game because we have a second game to play,” said Impact defender Hassoun Camara. “We have to take a lesson from this because we cannot come with this attitude on the field. We have to do everything to correct that.”
In fact, the result could have been much worse, were it not for a pair of strikes in the final five minutes of play that brought the series back within two goals – a not-insurmountable task with the second leg of the aggregate goals series set for Stade Saputo next week.
“In the end, I am happy,” Biello said. “We were able to get two away goals and get back in the game and give us a boost going home. We have a series.”
“We came here to get a tie or a result to take back home,” Salazar said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t go our way, but we’re not out of it, we’re still in it; we’re two goals out. When we go back home, we got work to do.”