Impact’s missed opportunities result in scoreless draw with Revolution

Montreal is still holding down a playoff spot, but the Impact has played 14 games and most of the teams chasing them have multiple games in hand.

A failure to convert a handful of scoring chances in the first half proved costly for the Impact on Saturday as the home side had to settle for a 0-0 draw against the New England Revolution at Saputo Stadium.

“When you have positive moments in a game, you need to score,” said coach Rèmi Garde. “It’s difficult to create chances and we have to  be more efficient.”

The Impact picked up a point in the standings with the draw, but good soccer teams are supposed to win at home and Garde knows this was a missed opportunity.

Impact’s Daniel Lovitz, right, is challenged by New England Revolution’s Diego Fagundez during first half MLS soccer action in Montreal on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS

“When you play at home and don’t win it’s not a good situation,” Garde said. “We lost two points. There were some positives. The fact that we didn’t concede a goal is always a good point. That we created many chances in the first half is a positive, but overall we lost two points.”

The Impact takes pride in earning at least point after a loss, but it was difficult to feel happy about this point because the Impact beat the Revolution 3-0 in Foxborough last month and the Revolution came into this game with the worst record in in the Eastern Conference. The draw followed a 2-1 road loss last weekend to FC Cincinnati, another MLS bottom feeder. There was one common factor in the games — both of their opponents were playing with new managers, although veteran coach Bruce Arena had interim coach Mike Lapper directing traffic Saturday.

“It’s unfortunate in the last two games we’ve come across teams that just fired their managers,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush, who put up his sixth clean sheet of the season. “There’s a little more fight, a little bit more spirit in those teams and I think you saw that in some of the duels, some of the battles, their willingness to fight. I thought the first half was all right. We created a lot of chances, I thought the energy was there. There were moments when we had two or three crosses in a row and we had shots. But instead of building confidence from that, getting some momentum, we got deflated a little bit because we didn’t score.”

Montreal is still holding down a playoff spot, but the Impact has played 14 games and most of the teams chasing them have multiple games in hand.

The Impact could have used someone with a finishing touch in the first half when it enjoyed a 2-to-1 edge in possession time.

Thanks largely to a series of through balls from Shamit Shome, the Impact took six shots of its seven shots from inside the box, but five of them were off target.

The one exception was in the 33rd minute when Maxi Urruti tested New England goalkeeper Matt Turner with a low ball. Turner got enough of the shot to slow it down and centre-back Jalil Anibaba caught up to the ball before it crossed the goal line.

“Honestly, I thought if we were able to play the next five minutes with the same rhythm, the same quality, we would have won that game,” Garde said. “I don’t know, maybe it’s because we’re struggling a little bit to have freshness, to have guys that are really fit. I’m trying to put the best guys on the field.  But (Ignacio Piatti) Nacho was coming back from an injury. Mathieu (Choinière) started, but didn’t play for a long time. I can’t explain it, but in the second we played without rhythm.

Shome noted the Revolution made adjustments to its game plan in the second half and put more pressure on the Impact’s deep backs, making it more difficult to get the ball up through the midfield.

Impact’s Ignacio Piatti (10) is challenged by New England Revolution’s Tajon Buchanan during second half MLS soccer action in Montreal on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The game marked the return of Piatti after two-month absence with a knee injury. There was a loud ovation when he entered the game as a substitute in the 66th minute. While he displayed his fitness, he attracted a lot of attention from the Revolution defenders and had trouble finding space. After one hard tackle from Juan Agudelo, an enraged Piatti picked up a yellow card for attacking the New England player with the soccer equivalent of a charging penalty in hockey.

Piatti said he was happy to be back and he appreciated the salute from the fans.

The Impact picked up four yellow cards in the final 11 minutes of the game. Samuel Piette picked up one of them and that means he is suspended for the Impact’s road game Friday against Los Angeles FC because of excessive yellow cards.

The draw wasn’t the only disappointing aspect of the game. The attendance on a cloudy afternoon was 15,559, well below capacity.

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