A pair of teams finding goals hard to come by square off Wednesday night when the New England Revolution host the Montreal Impact looking for back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
The Revolution (2-5-1) have scored six goals in their eight matches, ahead of only reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta – which has five goals in six matches. But substitute Cristian Penilla’s goal on 73 minutes – a composed, angled finish from 12 yards after latching onto a pass from Juan Caicedo – ended a 281-minute goalless drought and was enough for New England to record a 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
“Our goal in this game, believe it or not, was the clean sheet,” coach Brad Friedel told the club’s official website after making five changes to the starting XI from New England’s 2-0 loss to Atlanta on April 13. “That was our goal. We’ve been leaking too many (goals) on quick attacks and we worked hard on the midfielders.”
Penilla, who had a team-leading 12 goals last season, notched his first of the season, and the Ecuador international also grabbed the first goal scored by a Revs substitute in 2019. Penilla did not come off the bench in 33 league matches in 2018 but has done so three times in seven games thus far.
“As a professional, I’m patient. I come in when I’m required to. The opportunity was given to me, I scored the goal and we got three points,” Penilla said through an interpreter.
Montreal’s patience on the offensive end may be wearing thin as the Impact (3-2-3) play their eighth road match of nine overall. They were shut out for the third time in four matches, losing 3-0 at Philadelphia on Saturday and having a three-match unbeaten streak end.
Remi Garde’s side had a 290-minute shutout streak snapped just before the quarter-hour, but Montreal’s hopes of getting back into the contest were scuttled when Zakaria Diallo was called for a penalty for wrestling Jack Elliott to the pitch on a corner kick. Jamiro Monteiro converted from the spot just before halftime, and the Impact conceded a third without reply early after intermission.
“We brought it on ourselves, we know that. In the first half, we made some mistakes,” goalkeeper Evan Bush told the team’s official website. “We could not recover properly. That pretty much sums up the game. We need to keep pushing away and figure how what it’s going to take to be more dangerous. Today, it felt like we were not dangerous, they were able to press us and we did not make them pay.”
The Impact again missed the playmaking ability of Ignacio Piatti, who will miss his sixth straight match due to a knee injury and have scored only twice in the prior five contests without him. The Argentine had scored three goals in Montreal’s first three matches and has combined with Saphir Taider for six of the Impact’s eight goals.
New England has won four straight home matches versus Montreal and six of the last seven between the teams after a 1-0 victory Oct. 28 on Diego Fagundez’s 75th-minute goal. The Impact have gone 395 minutes without a goal at Gillette Stadium since Piatti’s strike in the 55th minute provided a 1-0 victory Oct. 17, 2015.
(Cody Cropper and Cristian Penilla photos courtesy New England Revolution official Twitter account)
(Maxi Urruti photo courtesy Montreal Impact official Twitter account)