Montreal’s counter attack was lethal throughout the night with Union killer Ignacio Piatti back in the lineup and newcomer Lassi Lappalainen introducing himself with early goals in each half of his first MLS game to snap the Impact’s four-game losing streak.
The Union had 64 percent of the possession, outshot the Impact 13-12 and had an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks but the Impact dominated in the only stat that matters, capitalizing on a disjointed Union defense missing the services of both Jamiro Monteiro winning balls in the midfield and left back Kai Wagner.
Montreal struck just after three minutes as fans were still trickling into their seats at Stade Saputo when Zachary Brault-Guillard ran through a number of white shirts and uncontested sent a ball into the box, where the 20-year-old Finnish international Lappalainen was able to maneuver behind Ray Gaddis to score with his first touch in MLS.
After failing to generate much in the opening 20 minutes, the Union attack started to come alive thanks to some dirty running from Alejandro Bedoya and clever touches from Brenden Aaronson and Marco Fabian. But just as the Union drew ever so close to finding an equalizer — Bedoya’s brilliant ball into the box to find Kacper Przybylko ended up hitting woodwork — disaster struck with a second Montreal goal against the run of play.
The goal came from Orji Okwonkwo and was set up by a Piatti assist after Gaddis inadvertently sprung the counter with a backward flicked header and left back Matt Real allowed Okwonkwo enough space to blast a shot past Blake. The assist was the seventh Piatti has recorded against the Union (along with four goals) in nine games.
Whatever head coach Jim Curtin said at halftime to rally his team, it went out the window moments after kickoff when Lappalainen made it 3-0 with a strong run and sucker punch finish.
Curtin went to his bench shortly thereafter, bringing in Ilsinho in the 49th minute for Aaronson and Andrew Wooten for Real seven minutes later to shift to three defenders in the back. Neither substitute ended up solving the Impact defense and another counter attack off a corner kick in the 66th minute put the game away when Okwonkwo was sprung by Maximiliano Urruti and beat Blake on a 1v1 breakaway.
Thanks to Atlanta United’s loss on Friday night to LAFC, the Union will remain in sole possession of first place for another week but the doubts are surely starting to set in for a team that has dropped 13 of their last 21 points following the Gold Cup break. Because of their four games in hand, fourth place NYCFC regained the lead in points per game in the conference at 1.75.
The Union will hit the road again to face the third place D.C. United at Audi Field on Sunday, August 4.