Samuel Piette celebrates first MLS goal
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Impact hail character to keep Canadian Championship hopes alive

The Montreal Impact knew a win was absolutely necessary to keep their quest of playing in the Canadian Championship final — and the Concacaf Champions League berth that goes with winning it — alive.

But just seven minutes after their must-win match against the Vancouver Whitecaps kicked off, the Impact fell into a one-goal hole at BC Place courtesy of a Theo Bair goal.

It was one of those fork-in-the-road moments for Montreal. How they’d respond would greatly determine their future.

And that response — four consecutive goals en route to a 4-2 victory Sunday night — shows a lot about the team’s spirit, midfielder Samuel Piette said.

“I think it shows that we have a team with a lot of character,” Piette said after the match. “We could have given up going 1-0 down which is obviously difficult to come back from that away. It was difficult as well for the goal differential to come back so I think we responded really well.”

Piette was part of that offensive explosion, scoring his first MLS goal six minutes into the second half to give the Impact a 3-1 lead.

"It feels good to score my first MLS goal in a winning situation,” Piette said. “It was a good night for me, but mostly for the team. In a more offensive role, you have to try to contribute to the score sheet. It's a role in which I'm more comfortable and with the quality of the players around me, it's easy to shine."

It took Piette 79 regular season games to reach that milestone, but it doesn’t come as a surprise to Impact coach Thierry Henry. Through most of his professional career, Piette has played a deep-lying role in the midfield, primarily charged with breaking up the opposition’s attack.

But Henry has moved Piette further up the field and, as such, the chances have come.

"Samuel has been comfortable in that role for a while now,” Henry said. “He finds himself in good situations. I knew it was going to come sooner or later."

And now the Impact have clarity heading into the second of back-to-back games against the Whitecaps at BC Place Wednesday (9:30 pm ET | TSN1, TVA Sports in Canada; MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US). A win and the Impact advance to the Canadian Championship final.

It will be another test of the Impact’s character.

"We reacted great. After a tough start, we started to apply our structure, but more importantly, we scored goals,” Henry said. “It became a bit of a weird game in the last 20 minutes, but it isn't easy to come here and do what we've done, so we're happy with it. We scored four away goals, but it will be a different game on Wednesday."


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