The Columbus Crew’s first trip to Montreal is one they won’t soon forget, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.
With all the statistics pointing in their favor, especially after Milovan Mirosevic put the Crew ahead in the 64th minute, they managed to defy the odds and lose 2-1 on Sunday to the expansion Impact.
Montreal hadn’t earned as much as a single point in six attempts when allowing the first goal in a game while the Crew were a stellar 5-0-1 after scoring first, yet history was thrown out the window as the home side outplayed and outworked Columbus to get a score from Zarek Valentin in the 78th minute and a winning penalty kick from Patrice Bernier 11 minutes later.
“That’s frustrating,” Crew defender Josh Williams said. “We got the goal and we started to settle down a little bit, knock the ball around. [Then] we got a little impatient.”
Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha was not happy about the penalty call that resulted from Chris Birchall clattering into Justin Mapp.
“The second goal probably was a gift by the referee,” Warzycha said. “I don’t know. It’s too bad it happened in the 88th minute. You’re always going to question that.”
The Impact outshot the Crew 24-9 and more importantly, had five of the six shots on goal.
“Montreal was the better team,” Warzycha said. “The better team won. We led 1-0 but we didn’t create much. They were pushing. They wanted it more.”
That the Crew (6-6-4) could muster no more offense than a corner kick from Nemanja Vukovic that Mirosevic headed past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from six yards was telling: Montreal (6-11-3) had allowed three goals in each of their prior three matches.
And there was little cohesion in the attack even with the return of Mirosevic from an adductor strain, and he and forward Emilio Rentería never clicked.
“We kept them very controlled in the first half, but while the minutes were going on, we starting defending more close to our goal,” Mirosevic said.
There were also problems defensively with major gaps even though captain Chad Marshall played for the first time in nine games after being sidelined by concussion symptoms.
“It was nice to get back out there, go the 90 minutes,” he said. “Obviously it was frustrating the way it turned out.”
However, his center back partner, Julius James, sat because of a hip flexor, and Williams took his place. The third-year defender played his usual solid game, but the Crew were further undone by the absence of Danny O'Rourke's steady influence in midfield, with his troublesome left ankle proving another thorn in the team's side.