MONTREAL – Of all the ways imaginable to end a lethargy, CF Montreal could hardly have found a more spectacular one.
After the 90 minutes of regulation play, the narrative framework in preparation was more one of consolation, that of having finally scored the long-awaited first goal since the start of the season. Then Hernan Losada’s men scored twice in stoppage time, overthrowing the Philadelphia Union by a score of 3-2 and extinguishing in euphoria a dry series of three losses.
Chinonso Offor first created the equality after a sequence that was reviewed not once, but twice on video replay. Then, in the eleventh hour, Romell Quioto scored his second goal of the match to ecstasy the stands.
Union head coach Jim Curtin spoke of a chaotic end to the game which he succinctly summed up in a term that would be unwise to translate into these pages. Losada, unsurprisingly, had a slightly rosier reading of this completely crazy dating ending.
“It’s hard to explain, but I think the best answer is that this is football,” said the coach after his first victory at the helm of the club. That’s why fans come to the stadium, that’s why it’s the best sport in the world. It’s for parties like tonight. That’s the explanation. »
However, this evening was not memorable for Losada when, after a long conversation with the video assistant, referee Nima Saghafi refused the Montreal equalizer on the pretext that its author was in an offside position.
The decision caused outrage in the Montreal camp. In a press briefing, Victor Wanyama explained that on the bench, a camera angle obtained by the coaching staff made it possible to see that a Union defender was positioned in such a way as to legalize the construction of the goal. The captain communicated the information to the people in charge, who verified it and ultimately agreed with him.
About two hours after the match ended, officials confirmed this interpretation in response to an official request for clarification from the media present.
“I can’t talk too much because honestly I haven’t seen the footage,” Losada said. I just heard people tell me it wasn’t offside, that a Philadelphia player was on the line, near the corner spot. It is believed that the VAR did not see it the first time. We are humans, we all make mistakes, but luckily for us and for the beauty of the sport, they went back and made the right decision. »
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life,” his vis-à-vis lamented. In all this chaos, I didn’t even know what we were trying to determine on the screen because for some reason that I will never explain, the referees don’t have to justify their decisions to us. »
Minutes later, Quioto headed home a superb cross from Mathieu Choinière to give the men in gray their first victory of the campaign. Established in a third different position in as many games, the versatile Quebec midfielder was directly involved in the three goals of his team.
CFM’s top scorer in each of the last three seasons, Quioto had scored the game’s first goal in the third minute. By converting a penalty, the Honduran striker ended a collective drought of 272 minutes without a goal.
A brace from Mikael Uhre in the first quarter of the second half, however, put the visitors in control. His first goal was the result of an unfortunate blunder by Nathan Saliba near his penalty area. His second came at the end of a counter-attack where the Montreal defense was overtaken.
“We started the second half very badly, obviously, agreed Losada. We conceded a goal after 30 seconds on an error that can happen from a young player. It’s part of the process. The second goal is in transition, Philly’s top way to score goals. But our resilience to continue, not to give up, is what counts today. »
Montreal played on the power play from the 69e minute, when a second yellow card was shown to opposing striker Julian Carranza. Still, on paper, the chances of the CFM to extract such a result had to be considered slim before the start of the meeting.
With the exception of the goaltending position, where veteran Joe Bendik replaced the crippled Andre Blake, the Union fielded the same roster that helped them reach the MLS Cup final last fall. Faced with this model of stability, CF Montreal had fielded a 19-year-old rookie (Saliba) and two new starters in Rida Zouhir and Mason Toye. Lassi Lappalainen, physically diminished and accustomed to patrolling the left lane, was used as a right-back.
Defender Kamal Miller, whose absence Losada had confirmed in midweek, was finally in his position in central defense. Samuel Piette and Aaron Herrera were not in uniform for this last game before the first international break of the season.
CF Montreal will return to action on the 1is April in Vancouver.