In soccer, there are defeats more cruel than others. Like that of the Montreal Impact against the New England Revolution about six months ago, and that of the new version of the team, on Saturday.
In a scenario reminiscent of the painful elimination of the Montreal team on November 20, CF Montreal suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 setback at the hands of Atlanta United FC in front of a massive crowd of 40,116. spectators at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Everything suggested that Wilfried Nancy’s men would return to Fort Lauderdale with a 0-0 draw when Marcelino Moreno headed a cross from Jake Mulraney to the left of goalkeeper Clément Diop in the last seconds of stoppage time. of the second half.
Gustavo Bou hit the Impact and Diop in the first round of the 2020 playoffs.
CF Montreal (2-2-2) suffered a third shutout this season.
Moreover, since the very first match between the two teams, which the Impact won 2-1 on April 15, 2017, Montreal players have posted a 0-5-1 record against Atlanta United. And in Atlanta, the team’s record is 0-4, with two goals scored and nine allowed.
As would be expected, the faces were dark and voices low among the team members who spoke to reporters on the post-match video conferences. Starting with Wilfried Nancy.
» Difficult. We suffered, we felt we were stepping back a little too much. They put a lot of pressure on us, ”he first indicated.
“The regret I have is that the (decisive) action comes from an offensive action that we had and on which we can do better. And afterwards, we manage a little badly. We could have cut off the game, made a fault or defended a little better when they had the ball deep. But I’m proud of the guys because it wasn’t easy. We played in front of an audience, we played against a good team, I would have preferred to take the goal a little earlier, if necessary, than to take a goal at the end like that. We have to learn from that. «
The offensive action Nancy was talking about came from Sunusi Ibrahim. With about 30 seconds to go at stoppage time, the 18-year-old Nigerian presented himself deep into enemy territory. However, after a few attempts at feints in front of opposing defenders, he was unable to unleash a shot that could have threatened goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s fortress.
On the field for the third time in eight days, against a rival who had not played since Sunday and in front of a noisy audience, the players of CF Montreal did not touch the ball much, as illustrated by their percentage of 36.8 percent possession. They still attempted ten shots, including two on target, the same number as their opponents.
Samuel Piette was of the opinion that a draw would have been fairer.
“We worked very hard in a difficult atmosphere. Everyone has done a good job. Losing that point on an action at the last second hurts a lot. In general we had a good game. The attitude was very good. The players were tired after the game because of everything they gave. «
Separately, Romell Quioto left the pitch stretched out on a stretcher in the 72nd minute of play after what appeared to be a left calf injury. The injury occurred when Wilfried Nancy was to replace him with Erik Hurtado.
CF Montreal will have a whole week to recharge their batteries and prepare for a local game next Saturday in Fort Lauderdale against FC Cincinnati (0-2-1), who occupied the last place in the Association standings. Is before the weekend games.
Was it because of the 40,000 or so spectators who acted as catalysts? Was it because of the synthetic surface? Was it because of an accumulated fatigue at CF Montreal against a rival who had not played since last Sunday?
Unless it was because of the skill of Atlanta United FC players in keeping possession of the ball since the start of the season, to the point of occupying first place in this regard in MLS (59.39 per hundred) before the game.
Wilfried Nancy’s men saw this during the first ten minutes of the match, during which they were driven back deep into their territory. During that interval, the Atlanta United players had three good chances to score, but a single shot forced Diop to make a save.
The Montreal team managed to slow down the momentum of their rivals and did not concede any other shot on target during this half. However, she failed to threaten Guzan, or even take better control of the ball.
At the end of the first half, CF Montreal had been limited to less than 36 percent possession of the ball and a single shot on target, from Bjorn Johnsen, easily blocked by Guzan, after the first half hour of play.
After a very start to the second half which perhaps foreshadowed a more incisive game from CF Montreal, we rather saw a repetition of the first half of the meeting with Atlanta United in control of the ball and deeply installed in Montreal territory.
From the 65th minute, Wilfried Nancy brought fresher legs to the pitch, especially those of Ahmed Hamdi. The Egyptian almost gave CF Montreal the lead in the 74th minute of play, but Guzan reacted well.
The officials added four more minutes to the second half and the last is the one that would sink the Montreal team.