Defensive errors cost the Montreal Impact in their 4-3 loss to rivals Toronto FC in Group C of the MLS is Back Tournament, leaving Thierry Henry’s side without a point in the competition after a narrow 1-0 loss in their opener to the New England Revolution.
“The goals we allowed come from basic mistakes,” Henry said postgame. “We worked on it again, again and again, but unfortunately, we saw them again tonight. We will have to work again to win against D.C.”
Toronto left back Richie Laryea scored the opener and then his teammate, forward Ayo Akinola, registered a hat trick with strong runs down the heart of the Impact defense. Montreal equalized twice at 1-1 and 2-2, and despite scoring a stoppage time penalty kick, they fell a goal short.
“It’s called concentration, application,” Henry said when explaining the goals Montreal conceded. “That can happen when you’re tired. That’s early to be tired. But this tournament does that to you. You watch the [other] games and it looks like those types of mistakes happen in preseason games. I’m not looking for any excuses. But that’s a fact. Having said that, that doesn’t mean you need to concede them the way we did concede them. Yes, we scored three and we had plenty more chances that we created. Not on counters. Not because they [Toronto] lost the ball. We created them … But you can’t concede four and expect to win the game.”
Henry admitted that he’s still working on finding the right defensive formula for his team, but it didn’t help his cause that the team was missing two center backs: the injured Joel Waterman and Rudy Camacho, who departed the team to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Victor Wanyama got the start at the center of a three-man central defense.
Despite the misgivings on defense, Henry was pleased with the possession and chances created against Toronto FC, as well as the fight which he felt was missing in the opener against New England.
“This is the most important thing for me,” Henry said in responding to one media question in Spanish. “The other day against new England it was different because we didn’t fight. Today you can’t say that. We fought a lot.
“If you concede goals the way we concede them [vs. Toronto] it’s difficult to win a ball game,” he continued. “And we created a lot. Not on counters. We created passing the ball through their lines. We lost the game. It’s a tough one to take. Obviously, against Toronto. Hopefully we can rectify that against D.C.
“The way we also possessed the ball against a team [Toronto FC] that usually likes to possess the ball – they didn’t have it. But they got us on the break. They got us on stuff that we shouldn’t be hurt. But it did happen. In the second half they didn’t touch the ball too much but when they did, they made us pay.”
Henry highlighted the play of MLS debutant Emanuel Maciel – “Immense in midfield,” Henry noted – and forward Romell Quioto with Wanyama, midfielder Samuel Piette and left winger Jorge Corrales also earning the coach’s plaudits.
Quioto scored a goal and earned a penalty kick for his team in the game. His tally came on a run in behind the Toronto back line, a movement that the Honduran attacker says Henry has asked him to make and which he’s working on at training.
“Henry is always showing me the videos of the movements he used to make [as a player] and how he used to score,” Quioto said. “I try to do it on the field.”
But like Henry, Quioto lamented similar penetrating runs made by Toronto FC’s attackers which exposed the Impact back line: “It’s affecting us a lot,” Quioto said. “When the [opposing] forwards make diagonal runs, we have to be concentrated defensively.”
The Montreal Impact will hope to correct those issues and claim the full three points by defeating D.C. United in their final Group C match (Tues., July 21, 10:30ET on TUDN, Twitter, TSN, TVAS). They’ll also have to hope that results in other groups go their way in order to have a chance to advance to the knockout round as one of the four best 3rd-place teams.