After playing 11 of its first 15 games on the road, Montreal is hoping to pile up some points at Saputo Stadium.
The Impact’s three-game homestand started off on the right foot Wednesday with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake in MLS action at Saputo Stadium, but coach Rémi Garde noted his team won’t have much time to savour the victory.
“This is the first of three games at home and we don’t have much time before the next one (Saturday afternoon against Orlando),” Garde said. “We’re going to need some fresh legs for that game because Orlando doesn’t have a mid-week game.”
After playing 11 of their first 15 games on the road, the Impact are hoping to pile up some points at home. Wednesday’s win snapped a three-game winless streak and moved Montreal into third place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points. That’s three points up on the New York Red Bulls who hold two games in hand.
The Impact had several scoring chances before Omar Browne scored his second goal of the season in added time in the first half for 1-0 lead. Bacary Sagna started the attack in the midfield and found Shamit Shome on the right wing. Shome delivered the cross to Browne, who beat Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando with a low shot to the far post.
“We knew their defenders like to drop deep and we were looking for the cutback,” Shome said. “Omar did a good job of finding some space and controlling a difficult ball.”
The home side had a strong start and had a pair of chances in the first two minutes.
Sagna delivered a cross to Saphir Taider in the opening minute, but Taider’s shot from close range hit the crossbar. The Impact kept the pressure on and Rudy Camacho had a header blocked in the second minute after a cross from Taider.
The Impact caught a break in the opening minutes of the second half. They gave up a free kick just outside the box and Sam Johnson dove to head home a cross from Jefferson Savarino, only to be ruled offside on the play.
Taider provided the Impact with what proved to be the winning goal when he scored on a penalty in the 68th minute. It was his fifth goal of the season and his second penalty in two games. In last week’s 4-2 loss to Los Angeles FC, Taider’s low shot to the left post was almost stopped. This time, the goalkeeper had no chance as Taider blasted a high shot to the right post. The penalty was awarded when Sagna was tripped up by Donny Toia as he chased a ball down in the box.
Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush lost his bid for a seventh shutout when Johnson scored in the 84th minute.
“You always talk about starting strong and we did that tonight,” Bush said. “We had a bit of a lull in the first half after that good start but we stayed with it,” he added. “We had a good start against New England in our last home game (a 0-0 draw) and then we got discouraged when we didn’t score. After we scored that second goal, we took our foot off the gas a bit and we almost paid for it.”
Ignacio Piatti, who has been hampered by injuries this season, was not dressed. Piatti, who experienced discomfort in his knee during training this week, has missed 11 games.
This game was the first of three home games in eight days. Fans attending Saturday’s game will be treated to a doubleheader because the Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham will be shown on the Saputo Stadium scoreboard prior to the Impact game.