SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Montreal Impact have made it a priority to start their 2019 season right. With their first six matches away from Stade Saputo and last season hampered by a 2-5 start to the campaign, Remi Garde knows that his squad can’t afford to dig themselves too deep a hole in the first month of the year.
The Impact got off on the right foot on Saturday night, crossing the continent to spoil the debut of San Jose Earthquakes manager Matias Almeyda with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory. While a win over last season’s wooden spoon winners might not normally move the needle, the way in which the Impact were able to grind out a comeback win on the road elicited positive feelings for a team that has missed the MLS Cup Playoffs the last two seasons.
“We didn’t control everything tonight, especially in the second half, but this is a victory for which the group truly worked hard,” said Impact head coach Remi Garde. “We didn’t panic and we were able to come back from behind away from home, which takes a lot of character. We also managed to hold on until the very end thanks to this group’s team spirit.”
The goals came from the familiar sources of MLS Best XI winger Ignacio Piatti and Algerian international Saphir Taider. Yet it was the play of the Impact’s newcomers that made the difference, with debutants Maxi Urruti, Orji Okwonkwo, Zachary Brault-Guillard and Zakaria Diallo all playing a role, highlighted by Diallo assisting on Taider’s game-winner in the 44th minute.
The supporting cast for Montreal stepped up when called upon in the second half, as the Earthquakes pressed forward for an equalizer but were unable to break down the Impact’s compact defensive shape.
“If we could have scored a third goal, the end of the game would’ve been different,” said Diallo. “They still had a chance to tie the game, so they continued to push. That’s when you realize how hard it is to close out a game away from home, but what’s important is the win and that we held on.”