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19th of October 2018

Canada



Impact's single point against NYCFC 'better than losing'

Montreal still holds the final playoff spot with four games to play.

Impact's Micheal Azira, centre, celebrates his first half goal against the New York City FC during MLS soccer action in Montreal on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. Peter McCabe / THE CANADIAN PRESS

There was a sense of disappointment in the Impact dressing room after playing to a 1-1 draw against New York City FC on Saturday night before a sold-out crowd of 20,801 at Saputo Stadium.

But coach Rémi Garde put the result in perspective when he said earning one point was better than losing.

“We know we didn’t play our best game, but we picked up a point and there were times earlier this season when we didn’t play well and we lost points,” Garde said.

The point means the Impact is clinging to the sixth and final playoff position in the MLS Eastern Conference with 40 points. With four games to play, Montreal is five points ahead of DC United and the New England Revolution. DC United has two games in hand, while New England has one.

“We have our destiny in our hands and that’s what you want,” Garde said. There are four games remaining on the Impact schedule, including games against DC United and New England. The Impact needs results in both games and the challenge is compounded because both games are on the road.

The Impact travels to Washington next Saturday and closes out the season in New England on Oct. 28.

A stroke of bad luck gave NYCFC a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. Impact defender Rudy Camacho and New York’s Jo Inge Berget were deep in the box chasing a crossing pass from Ronald Matarrita. Camacho got his foot on the ball, but his momentum pushed the ball past Evan Bush for an own goal.

The Impact got that one back in the 27th minute when Michael Azira scored his first goal of the season. Azira passed the ball to Ignacio Piatti at the top of the box and Piatti used his heel to return the ball to Azira, who scored from 17 yards. His shot hit a defender and then caromed past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

“I was ready because when I gave Nacho the ball, I knew I was going to get it back,” Azira said.

Azira and Quincy Amarikwa both joined the Impact last month and Garde said they were pleasant surprises. Amarikwa scored his first Montreal goal in last week’s win in Philadelphia.

The Impact had a 9-3 edge in shots in the first half, but they almost fell behind in extra time. Bush had to come up with the save when David Villa had a clear shot from the top of the box.

Montreal had an early break when Alexander Ring fouled Piatti in the third minute, setting up a free kick from 21 yards out. Daniel Lovitz’s free kick was blocked, his attempt on the rebound was blocked and so was a third shot by Bacary Sagna.

There were two other missed opportunities in the first half. Alejandro Silva found Amarikwa in the box in the 25th minute, but his header went wide. And Rod Fanni headed a cross from Saphir Taider in the 44th minute, but Johnson tipped the ball over the crossbar.

Bush came up with two big saves in the second half, but the Impact had the best chance to snap the tie in the 84th minute when Piatti made a strong run and delivered a through ball to Alejandro Silva. The threat ended when Johnson came out to smother Silva’s shot. Three minutes later, Matteo Mancosu found the back of the net, but the play was ruled offside.

The Impact’s next home game is Oct. 6 against the Columbus Crew.

phickey@postmedia.com

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