It was ultimately a disappointing homecoming for Marc Dos Santos and Maxime Crepeau in Montreal on Wednesday evening, in an action packed match that saw the Impact come away with a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps to keep their playoff hopes alive.
All the drama came in the first half. Yordy Reyna fired the Whitecaps ahead in the 17th minute then missed a penalty four minutes later, only to see a retake ordered, which he subsequently missed as well.
After that it was all downhill for the ‘Caps with two goals in three minutes securing a huge three points for the Impact thanks to a Doneil Henry own goal and a third of the season for Maxi Urruti.
Following Saturday’s debacle in San Jose, where Vancouver were outshot, outpossessed, and outclassed by an Earthquakes team which, let’s face it, shouldn’t have been able to dominate the Whitecaps the way they did, Marc Dos Santos rang some changes, all on the attacking side, with Tosaint Ricketts and Michaell Chirinos both getting their first starts for the ‘Caps.
Considering how the Whitecaps defence was pulled apart over the weekend, it was surprising not to see at least one defensive change, but Scott Sutter aside, there’s not a lot of options back there right now with Erik Godoy injured and Jasser Khmiri still rehabbing.
After a pretty uneventful opening, the game sprung to life in the 17th minute when Yordy Reyna started and finished a Whitecaps attack to fire Vancouver into the lead.
Max Crepeau had turned away an Orjo Okwonkwo cross, which was then headed clear by Doneil Henry to the feet or Reyna. The Peruvian powered forward and in a nice passing move the ball eventually came out wide right to Ricketts, whose cross into the box was helped into the path of Reyna by Michaell Chirinos, for the ‘Caps forward to fire home his sixth of the season.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) August 29, 2019
Vancouver kept attacking and earned the chance to double their lead in the 21st minute when Samuel Piette was adjudged to have brought down Chirinos in the box and referee Ismail Elfath pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Reyna, only to be denied by a great one handed diving save by Bush. The rebound fell straight to Ricketts, who made no mistake from 12 yards out to fire high into the net, for seemingly his first goal as a Whitecap.
But then in stepped the video review team and we got a rare result – a double VAR, with Ricketts deemed to have encroached in the box and Bush having been deemed to have come off his line for the save. The end result was a retaken penalty.
Reyna stepped up again, went the same way, and Bush again came up with the big save, this time turning the effort around the post for a corner. Crazy stuff.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 29, 2019
It was also to prove to be a costly miss for Vancouver who soon found themselves behind in the match.
Montreal had a spring in their step after the good fortune that fell their way, and they levelled things up in the 35th minute when Henry turned an Urruti cross into his own net.
Two and a half minutes later and Montreal were in the lead, and it was that man Urruti again who did the damage, this time pouncing on a ball to the back post after some poor Vancouver defending, and drilling the ball back across goal and past Crepeau into the far corner.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 29, 2019
The second half started with a bang, as both keepers were called upon to save their sides.
Crepeau was first in action, turning away a deflected cross at his near post just 42 seconds in. The ‘Caps went immediately up the pitch and Bush was out quick to deny Chirinos, who had taken a heavy first touch. The rebound fell to Inbeom Hwang but his effort couldn’t find a way past the Impact defender in the six yard box.
Chirinos nearly amends in the 53rd minute when he met an Adnan cross but his diving header was straight at Bush, when anywhere else on target would likely have led to the equaliser.
The action was going from end to end and Crepeau got down well to keep out a Saphir Taider effort.
The ‘Caps keeper followed that up seconds later from the resultant corner, pulling out a fingertip save to keep out a Urruti curler that was heading for the top left corner.
Crepeau was off his line quickly a minute before the hour mark to deny Bojan, who didn’t make good contact on a through ball right in front of goal.
The Whitecaps kept pushing for the leveller and Bush turned a Ricketts shot around his near post for a corner midway through the half.
Crepeau came up with another fantastic save in the 77th minute to deny a fierce Bojan strike from the edge of the box, making it eight saves on the night, still just half of his MLS record breaking 16 saves in San Jose.
Lassi Lappalainen came within inches of wrapping the game up for Montreal in the 81st minute on a quick Impact break, but his shot went inches past the far post with Crepeau beaten.
The game ended with little remaining action, and Montreal grabbed three massive points in their race for the postseason, moving back into the playoffs places, leapfrogging their fierce Canadian rivals Toronto in the process.
For Vancouver, it was a far better effort than what was on display at the weekend, with Reyna, Ricketts, and Chirinos showing the makings of an exciting attacking partnership. But ultimately it was a losing effort and another poor defensive showing by the Whitecaps, who now must be just wishing that the season ends.
I know I am.
FINAL SCORE: Montreal Impact 2 – 1 Vancouver Whitecaps
MONTREAL: Evan Bush; Bacary Sagna, Rudy Camacho, Jukka Raitala, Daniel Lovitz; Samuel Piette, Saphir Taider, Orjo Okwonkwo (Shamit Shome 68), Bojan (Ken Krolicki 84), Lassi Lappalainen; Maxi Urruti (Jorge Corrales 90+2) [Subs Not Used: Clement Diop, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Ballou Tabla, Clement Bayiha]
VANCOUVER: Maxime Crepeau; Jake Nerwinski, Doneil Henry, Derek Cornelius, Ali Adnan; Jon Erice; Yordy Reyna, Inbeom Hwang, Russell Teibert (Theo Bair 87), Michaell Chirinos (Fredy Montero 76); Tosaint Ricketts (Lass Bangoura 82) [Subs Not Used: Zac MacMath, Scott Sutter, Brett Levis, Andy Rose]
MARC DOS SANTOS
Thoughts on losing after going ahead and the penalty situation:
“I agree it was a good start but then, apart from the goals of Montreal there was always a lot of good control from our side, especially in the second half. There’s a big chance Michaell [Chirinos] has. If he takes better his touches in front of the goal, there’s another good header, there’s one from Toss. The response from the game against San Jose, coming here there was fluidity, there was good possession, there was good personality in the team. I think that the key point in the game is that penalty shot situation that I totally disagree [with].
“It’s a huge mistake. These calls are not called. There’s no chance this is called back in Atlanta, in Seattle, in LA. No chance. But it’s called right now because we don’t have the full respect right now of officials and that’s going to change, but it shouldn’t be called. It needs to be clear and obvious. To be called back, and for the official to call back, it’s ridiculous and that that’s a changing point in the moment of the game and when that happens we have to try and come back. I think that the heads of all the players were not down. They played, overall, a good second half. Tried to score, created, then of course when we push so many bodies there’s the awareness and the danger of transition that Montreal, as a team, it’s a big part of their game, but overall the only thing negative today was the result.”
Thoughts on Ricketts and Chirinos’ first starts:
“I don’t like to talk about individual players. That’s up to the media to evaluate and see. For me the important thing is really to talk about the reaction of the team after a game that we played like in San Jose and the reaction was that we lost so many balls against San Jose in possession and today there was a reaction in three days of a much better possession game that we played.”
More thoughts on the penalty and why it was called:
“For me, look I’m being honest, this is not called in other places. It’s not. Right now, we are, but it’s not called in other places. I watch pretty much every other MLS games, it’s not. Second, I can’t talk about VAR this year because it’s been disastrous for us in many moments and right now I never speak about these moments, but I feel that at game 28, if I don’t defend my group then I’m being a coach that never defends it. I have to defend them. It was horrendous. The game is changing. I fell in love with another game. This game is robotic. One day there’s not going to be players on the field. I think Playstation on the TV, it’s going to sell more than the real game and it’s because it’s coming so robotic it’s incredible.”
On getting 61% possession:
“We stressed closing down that was very bad in San Jose. We stressed a lot about the first pass out of pressure, so we start possession. We spoke so much. We went through video because we couldn’t train a lot and again, the response was perfect. The only thing that was negative today was the result.”
On Jon Erice’s return to the line-up:
“He played a good game, especially the passing game because he has that quality. We felt again that Jon needed a little bit of a break because of the 13, 14 months in a row. He’s going to help the team in moments like that for sure.”
Thoughts on Max Crepeau:
“I talk about him a lot. Look, it’s great for him to be in a moment like that. He also did at least three very important saves to keep us in the game. Again, he got his opportunity, he took it, and he still has a big margin to progress in my opinion.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It’s frustrating cos I feel that we shot ourselves in the foot once again, where the first 30 minutes it’s under control then I think it’s a soft challenge for a corner that ends up as a home goal. We make a mistake in the first place and we pay cash. It’s happened too many times this season and this is why we’re in this position right now.”
On bouncing back from poor game in San Jose:
“It’s a better performance than this weekend, for sure. The boys still pushed and there was a little bit more drive and more character to actually get a result, so yeah, it was positive compared to this week’s game, but I think we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and put games away. We need to put games away. That’s the reality of the league. We need to turn the page and focus on New York FC because we fly tomorrow, we have training, and then we go again. So we really need to turn the page quick.”
On being back playing at home in Montreal and having his family and friends there:
“They came in big numbers. It’s my first time I’ve come back since January. It was good to have them with me at the field.”
On having more of the pressure but not getting anything from the game:
“It’s the story of the year for us, honestly. We have difficulties in putting the game away. We all know what happened with the PK and vice versa, and it’s coming right back at us again. I think there’s not much more to say after this. We make a mistake, we pay cash. We’ll there’s the PK mistake and then we chase the game once again, but it was better than last weekend and we need to switch on right away again for New York this weekend.”
Thoughts on saving the penalty and coming back from behind to win:
“That’s the beauty of the game. The game can change in one second, for good or for bad. For us, in that moment, we could have been down 2-0. That could have happened. What we know, what I know, is the mentality and the attitude of the players today. I’m proud of the players and I’m happy for them. I’m sure that if we continue playing this way, we are going to have more positive than negative results.”
Thoughts on the win:
“This was obviously a must-win game for us at home. We needed these points to get back into it and put us into position to play a game Saturday against an opponent directly in front of us. Credit to our guys for going to get those two goals before half-time and holding on for the rest of the game.”