Above everything, the Montreal crowd wanted to see their team beat their enemies by any means possible. What they ended up witnessing were two second-half goals from Toronto’s Alejandro Pozuelo and Jozy Altidore.
“It’s a really bad day for the club, the players and the fans,” said Bacary Sagna. “We’re aware of it and all we can do is just keep working hard.”
The Impact lost Samuel Piette to an abdomen injury and had to substitute him at the 60th minute. One minute later, Toronto took advantage of the displacement in the Montreal lineup to break the deadlock. The Impact backline left Pozuelo all the space needed to launch a heavy shot that beat Evan Bush towards the far post.
“The goal they scored was a tough moment and we have struggled when the opponent scored the first goal,” Jukka Raitala said.
A rain and thunder delay hit Stade Saputo minutes after the opening goal forcing players to the locker rooms for 25 minutes. When play resumed, the Impact weren’t able to find an equalize, taking 12 of their 17 shots in the second half with only three reaching the target.
On the other end, Toronto FC converted on a stoppage-time free kick to seal the win. Altidore curled a shot that beat Bush toward the lower left-hand post. The regular contributor to the Canadian Classique ran towards the 1642 Montreal supporters group to celebrate.
Third straight loss
The Impact lost a third straight game for the first time this season. Montreal now has a 1-3-1 record in their last five games in all competitions.
“I think that we need to react, I think that we showed it a little today,” Impact coach Remi Garde said. “Of course three straight losses doesn’t put us in a good position.”
For Sagna, Saturday’s loss is accountable to the lack of possession on home soil and miscommunication. The former French international said his team needs to flip their focus to next week’s game as soon as possible.
Jul 13, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg (16) stops Montreal Impact forward Orji Okwonkwo (18) during the first half at Stade Saputo. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
“We know we need to keep working hard as a team,” Sagna said. “I still believe that we have quality in the team. I still believe that whenever we play with confidence we are probably one of the best teams, but we have to do it on the pitch.”
Piette: Abdomen muscle pull likely
Garde did not have a full diagnostic of Piette but said that: “apparently he pulled a muscle in his abdomen.”
“It’s not a very reassuring injury because it takes time and is very painful,” Garde said. “He quickly went back home.”
Garde added without Piette and Ignacio Piatti, the Impact were bound to struggle against their rivals.
“Sam’s absence is harmful to the team, we have to reorganize and do without him,” Garde said. “Once again, without Sam or Nacho, that’s a lot of players that you miss for important games like that. Against good teams that have good players, of course we would need to have all of our assets as well.”