Impact look for better defence as they start three-game road trip in New York

Impact look to rebound from defensive collapse

MONTREAL — Goalkeeper Evan Bush wants Montreal’s late-game collapse in its home opener to be a learning experience for the rest of the season.

Montreal squandered a two-goal lead last weekend versus Seattle at Olympic Stadium. The Sounders scored from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute and then found the equalizer in stoppage time as the match ended in a 2-2 draw.

Bush says it’s crucial the Impact learn from their defensive breakdown, especially as the team begins a three-game road trip Saturday afternoon against New York City FC. After New York, Montreal plays away games in Chicago and then Los Angeles.

“It’s all growing pains at the start of the season,” said Bush. “Just things you need to work out. Any time something happens like it did Saturday, you learn from it.

“Mentally, it was a problem. When you’re defending a two-goal lead, you need to be smart about it. We actually had a pretty good game on Saturday. For 80 minutes we were quite good. We just didn’t close it the right way.”

Montreal (0-1-1) will need stingier defending against a New York side with multiple goal-scoring threats like David Villa and Thomas McNamara, as well as a veteran playmaker in Andrea Pirlo.

New York City FC (1-1-0) led Major League Soccer with 62 goals last season, 13 more than the Impact.

Missing from New York’s lineup is midfielder Frank Lampard, who retired last month. Lampard had 12 goals for New York in 2016, and the club is hoping newcomer Maximiliano Moralez, a dynamic midfielder, will help carry the load in his absence.

Patrick Vieira’s men stumbled out of the gate this year, losing 1-0 in their season opener. But they answered back with a 4-0 drubbing of D.C. United in which Villa scored twice.

And the Spaniard has always found success against the Impact, scoring five goals in five career appearances.

“This is a dangerous team we’re playing against on Saturday,” said defender Chris Duvall, who was traded to Montreal from the New York Red Bulls in the off-season. “They put up four goals against a very good defensive team in D.C. That’s something we need to focus on. We’re just trying to be a little more organized.

“We know with our attackers, we’ll find goals. So if we stay organized in defence, we’ll have a chance.”

As always, the Impact will also need to contend with the field in New York. NYCFC plays its home games at Yankee Stadium, which is not a soccer-specific stadium.

“It feels like you’re playing on a slant almost,” said Bush. “Just because of where the stands are, and the benches. It’s strange. Add on to that the dimensions, which are the smallest in the league. It’s a bit of a pinball game in that situation.”

Montreal is 1-1-1 all-time at Yankee Stadium, which is becoming a bit of a fortress for New York City. The club is 8-0-1 at home in its last nine regular-season games, outscoring their opponents 28-9 over that stretch.

Despite blowing the 2-0 lead last week, the Impact showed some promise in their home opener. Ignacio Piatti and striker Matteo Mancosu exhibited great chemistry on the pitch, and the team was solid in midfield.

“It’s going to be a really tough game,” Vieira, now in his second year coaching NYCFC, told the team’s website this week. “Montreal has some really talented individuals in the group. Piatti is one of them but we’re going to concentrate on all of the team.”

Notes: Piatti has three career goals versus New York City FC. … Impact defender Laurent Ciman was selected by the Belgian national team on Friday for two international games at the end of March.

Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press

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