Atlanta United’s unbeaten streak on the road was shattered today as the Montreal Impact scored a heartbreaker in stoppage time to take the 2-1 comeback victory.
Kenwyne Jones earned his first start and netted his first goal in MLS to give Atlanta United the advantage in the first half, but just before the break, a red card shown to Leandro González Pirez and a penalty awarded to Montreal forced Atlanta a man down and allowed the Impact to level the score. The expansion side showcased some heroic defending and heart in the second half, but a redirected shot in stoppage time trickled into the net for the home side.
Tata Martino’s side lined up just slightly different than last week with defender Mark Bloom and striker Kenwyne Jones earning their first starts for the club. Atlanta’s starting XI in Montreal: Alec Kann (GK), Greg Garza (LB), Leandro González Pirez (CB), Michael Parkhurst (CB), Mark Bloom (RB), Carlos Carmona (CM), Jeff Larentowicz (CM), Julian Gressel (CAM), Tito Villalba (RW), Miguel Almirón (LW), and Kenwyne Jones (ST).
The first 30 minutes of the match were uneventful, a little sloppiness and disorganization from both sides, but it was Atlanta who broke the deadlock. Carlos Carmona intercepted the home side’s pass in the midfield and fed Tito Villalba on the wing. The Argentine then slipped in a cutting Kenwyne Jones who found himself alone with the opposing goalkeeper and calmly slotted it home with a single touch for his first-ever Atlanta United goal.
Atlanta’s advantage would only last minutes as Montreal was awarded a penalty just before the halftime whistle. A lifted through ball from the Impact’s Patrice Bernier was chased down by forward Matteo Mancosu and Atlanta’s Leandro González Pirez who then appeared to have brought him down from behind. Pirez was shown a red card even though Pirez, his teammates, Tata Martino, and the commentators seemed to think it was hardly deserved. Nonetheless, Montreal’s star, Ignacio Piatti, who missed the last two matches with an injury, put away the penalty to equalize for the home side.
At halftime, Atlanta brought on Anton Walkes for Julian Gressel to offer more support on the back line. Tata Martino also made a few more defensive-minded moves later in the second half, replacing forwards Tito Villalba and Kenwyne Jones and bringing in midfielders Chris McCann and Kevin Kratz, who made his first appearance for the expansion side. Atlanta competed valiantly and defended superbly well for being a man down for the second 45 and nearly came away with a point, until stoppage time arrived. Montreal’s Hernan Bernardello had a shot from range that redirected off of Jackson-Hamel and eventually trickled into the far post, giving the Impact the late lead just before the final whistle blew.
“It was an unfortunate loss for us,” said defender Greg Garza. “We played a pretty good Montreal team. I thought we controlled the game pretty well after the unfortunate call and the penalty kick, but it’s a tough loss for us. I think we did enough to know that we have big things for us to come in the future and one game to forget.”
Atlanta United finish their four-match road stretch with a trip to Utah next week to face Real Salt Lake. The boys in red, black and gold will then return home on April 30th as they host Eastern Conference opponents, D.C. United. You can secure your seat with a 4-game ticket pack or by becoming a Founding Member and joining the 30,000+ season ticket holders.