MONTREAL â€” It was a draw that felt like a defeat for the Montreal Impact.
Leading by two goals with just under eight minutes to go, the Impact saw the Seattle Sounders score from the penalty spot and then get the equalizer from veteran Will Bruin in extra time in a 2-2 draw on Saturday night before 34,373 shocked fans at Olympic Stadium.
“It’s disappointing that we let them back in this game,” said still steaming Impact coach Mauro Biello after the match. “We have to be able to manage the game in the last seven or eight minutes.
“It was a lack of concentration in the final minutes and a good team took advantage of that. It was like our team was waiting for the final whistle.”
The Impact (0-1-1) had built a 2-0 lead on goals from their top two attacking players Matteo Mancosu and Ignacio Piatti and looked to be cruising when referee Jair Marrufo pointed to the spot in the 83rd minute after substitute Oneil Fisher went down, perhaps a little too easily for the booing crowd’s liking, after a brush with Laurent Ciman just inside the 18-yard box.
Nicolas Lodeiro made no mistake with a low shot for his first of the season.
The goal gave a boost of energy to the defending MLS champions and their pressing seemed to put Montreal in disarray.
The Sounders looked to have equalized in the 90th on a give and go between Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey, but it was nullified by what may have been a phantom hand ball call.
Moments later, Cristian Roldan’s cross from the right side was headed down by Morris and the Bruin slammed it in from the doorstep. That one counted.
“It’s concentration,” said Impact captain Patrice Bernier. “We played a little too direct toward the end.
“We could have kept the ball and managed the game better. They wanted the ball back and we were giving it to them.”
It spoiled what had been a strong effort by Montreal, which was coming off a listless 1-0 loss in its season opener last week in San Jose.
“I don’t want to be too negative because we did a lot of good things,” said Bernier. “Compared to last week, it’s night and day.
“We had possession. We recovered the ball. We created a lot of chances. We were intense. But it has to be for 90 minutes plus. In this league, most goals are scored in the last 15 minutes, so that’s when we have to focus even harder.”
The Sounders (0-1-1), who were coming off a 2-1 loss in Houston, will celebrate their championship at their home opener next week against the New York Red Bulls.
“This is a tough place to play for opponents so we’re thrilled to get two late goals and come out with a time,” said Sounders midfielder Harry Shipp, who played for Montreal last season.
After the Impact were held without a shot in San Jose, Mancosu scored on the first of the game on a quick attack straight up the middle in the 17th minute. Bernier got the ball to Piatti, who found Mancosu on a run behind the defence. The Italian made a move to the left and slotted the ball into an open goal.
It was another run up the middle that doubled the Montreal lead in the 51st minute when, with Mancosu distracting the defence, Piatti was able to charge in and score on a low shot. Bernier was given his second assist of the game. The Impact captain was subbed out eight minutes later for recent signing Adrian Arregui, who saw his first MLS action.
Montreal had other opportunities, including a diving header by Mancosu that Stefan Frei grabbed easily in the 32nd.
Impact defender Hassoun Camara, serving a one-game suspension, was replaced by Victor Cabrera who returned from an injury only to leave in the 83rd with cramps.
Montreal is 2-1-3 in home openers at the Big O, with their only loss a 2-0 setback to Seattle in 2014.
The Impact begin a stretch of three road games next Saturday at New York City. Their home match is April 15 against Atlanta.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press