It was an open, attacking game between two sides that entered the MLS Cup Playoffs in fine form. Montreal advanced past Toronto 3-0 on Thursday night and had to make sure fatigue didn’t affect their performance too much on Sunday.
The Impact beat the Crew home and away during the regular season and used whatever mental edge followed that by putting in a confident display in front of the home crowd.
Didier Drogba looked to have opened the scoring after 15 minutes as he bundled the ball into the net but the goal was disallowed as the Ivorian was adjudged to have handled the ball as it went in.
Montreal were then stunned as Columbus took the lead on 33 minutes, grabbing an important away goal through Federico Higuain as he slotted in after Drogba’s defensive header fell straight to him.
But the Impact’s troubles didn’t last too long as Patrice Bernier levelled with a powerful header from a corner on 37 minutes, much to the delight of the home crowd. The goal was Bernier’s second in four days after not scoring during the entirety of the regular season.
The second-half saw the game tighten up a bit but Montreal then capitalised on some lacklustre Columbus defending in the 77th minute as Johan Venegas cooly slotted in after just coming off the bench.
Columbus pressed for a late equaliser but were unable to add to their single away goal and now have to make sure they win their home game next weekend.
Kei Kamara really struggled to make an impact for Columbus and the Crew will have to find a way to get him more involved for next weekend’s match if they’re to advance to the next round.
The two sides will meet at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus next Sunday for the second leg. The winner will go on to face DC United or the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference Final.
What did you make of Sunday’s game in Montreal? Did the Impact deserve to win?