MONTREAL, Quebec — Ola Kamara scored his fifth goal of the season and the LA Galaxy held on for a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact Monday afternoon at Stade Saputo. The Galaxy had to play most of the game down a man after Zlatan Ibrahimović was red carded in the first half for slapping Montreal midfielder Michael Petrasso.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Galaxy, while the Impact’s losing streak extended to three games. The Impact, who were celebrating their 25th anniversary, have now lost seven of their last eight games.
Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid was thrilled by the way his team was able to come away with the result.
“The guys really pulled together, stayed together,” Schmid said. “We talk a lot about our defending because in the last two games we’ve played on the road, we should have come out with points in both games, we scored enough goals, but we kept giving up goals. [Today,] even at 10 men we said, ‘If we could play to zero, we’ll get a goal.'”
Both teams entered the game in similarly dismal situations, both desperate to snap losing streaks and improve their poor defensive records.
A slew of injuries coupled with the suspension of fullback Daniel Lovitz, forced Montreal coach Remi Garde into starting a makeshift back line. In his first game of the season, midfielder Marco Donadel started at centerback with left fullback Jukka Raitala.
The notable tactical change for the Galaxy was starting Jonathan Dos Santos in a more advanced midfield position, instead of his usual deeper role. This move helped the Galaxy keep the majority of the possession in the first half, but their attacks were mostly slow and predictable.
For two teams desperate for a win, the first half was surprisingly dull. Neither side was able to create any clear-cut chances.
May 21, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) gets a red card from an official during the first half of the game against the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
It would have been an uneventful first half if not for Ibrahimovic getting sent off in the 42nd minute. The Galaxy had possession of the ball around midfield and Montreal defender Michael Petrasso was closely marking Ibrahimovic inside the Impact box. As Ibrahimovic backed up, Petrasso stepped on his toes and the Swede retaliated by slapping the defender on the side of his head. After video review Ibrahimovic was sent off and Petrasso was given a yellow card.
Schmid argued that the Galaxy should have been awarded a penalty kick.
“If he got stepped on, then he hit the guy, it seems to me that in the order of fouls the stepping occurred first so it should be a PK,” Schmid said. “It makes no sense.”
Forced to play the rest of the game a man down, the Impact started to control the game, pinning the Galaxy back in their end. However, even with a one-man advantage they struggled to break down the Galaxy defense.
Defending deep in their end, the Galaxy tried to catch the Impact on the counterattack. The tactic worked.
In the 75th minute, Ola Kamara got in behind the Impact defense and scored from close range.
“When Zlatan got the red card, I played on top and I was able to get the match-winning goal, and it was a great feeling for me,” Kamara said. “We really needed that. After four losses, we needed that momentum and positive feeling in the team, and we got that today. And maybe that gives us some confidence going into the next games.”