MONTREAL – Evan Bush gave Montreal Impact fans something to cheer about at Stade Saputo, and he heard them loud and clear.
Bush was not oblivious to the roar of the crowd on Wednesday night after he stopped San Jose Earthquakes captain Chris Wondolowski's penalty kick in the 87th minute to preserve Montreal's one-goal lead.
"After the save, I heard it," Bush said. "I hadn't heard the crowd like that here in a while, and with good reason. We haven't been great at home, obviously, in the past couple of months so we needed to repay them with a win and some big moments, and I'm glad we were able to."
For once, the Impact not only held onto an early lead, they expanded on it, at least through halftime.
Wondolowski cut the Impact's lead to 2-1 in the 62nd minute, and had an opportunity to draw the Earthquakes even in the 87th minute, but Bush guessed right.
"That was massive," Impact coach Mauro Biello said. "For the team, for Bush, for everybody, to come up big there in that moment was exceptional on his part. But that's what it is, you've got to make plays and he was able to make a play. The same like a forward needs to put the ball away, a defender or a goalkeeper needs to make a play. And in these past games we haven't been able to make those plays, and Bush came up big tonight and made the big play."
The save was met with an eruption of cheers from the anxious crowd, which feared that the Impact's playoff hopes may have slipped away if Montreal had given up the lead with only minutes remaining.
"It's like a weight off your shoulders because you're looking at it and usually when it's a penalty, you have to admit that you always think it's going to be a goal," Montreal midfielder Patrice Bernier said. "But you're hoping for something big, and that was a big save, a big save at a big moment."
Bush gave Impact goalkeeper coach Youssef Dahha full credit for preparing him for Wondolowski's tendencies.
"Youssef does a good job with getting us the information every game about where the penalty kick takers go," Bush said. "At the end of the day it's a crapshoot, you know, Wondolowski could change up where he goes, but we were pretty confident that he was either going to go down the middle or to my right, and I think he struck it pretty well down the middle for the most part, but I was fortunate enough to keep my legs behind me and react to it."
"For us to get that second goal in the first half and come into halftime with the clean sheet still, up two goals, you know, we were very happy about that," Bush said. "A lot of people say that 2-0 is the worst lead in soccer, but I'll take that over 1-0."
Montreal remains in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 41 points, five ahead of seventh-place New England and six up on eighth-place Orlando City, which it plays next at Camping World Stadium on Sunday.
"That's a momentum shift," Bernier said. "That save was perfect. It was the three points. Today, it's the three points. Of course, we played well, but in the last few games it probably would have been 2-2 and we would have been down because we were down maybe offensively, so Bush came out with a big save at a big moment and that's what big goalies do in a season."