When Jeisson Vargas found the back of the net, ending the Montreal Impact‘s 425-minute scoreless drought, his teammates and coach breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Vargas scored Montreal’s first goal in five games as the Impact defeated the visiting Houston Dynamo 1-0 on Saturday to snap a four-game losing skid.
“I was so happy. I think I shouted with all my might,” said midfielder Samuel Piette, who assisted on the goal. “What a relief. We controlled play, put a lot of balls in the attacking third, and just weren’t able to score. So to finally score a goal and take a lead felt really good.”
Vargas’s goal, which came in the 44th minute, was worthy of breaking the franchise’s longest goalless streak in Major League Soccer.
Jumping on a weak clearance by Houston’s DaMarcus Beasley, Piette found Vargas in tight coverage at the edge of the penalty box. With four orange jerseys converging on him quickly, Vargas took one touch before curling a right-footed strike in the top corner of the net for his fourth of the year.
It was Montreal’s first goal since Ignacio Piatti’s 68th-minute strike on May 5 against New England.
“Great effort from everyone at a time when we really needed it,” said Impact coach Remi Garde. “I’m relieved, I won’t lie. We were in a very difficult stretch. It doesn’t mean we’re completely out of it, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. Not conceding was very positive, and the way we defended the lead too.”
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“The team spirit was very high. I was impressed with that.”
The Impact (4-10-0) did not play like a team mired in a slump
Garde’s men controlled possession for large portions of the first half and steadily marched down the field. At the other end, staunch defending by Rod Fanni and Jukka Raitala kept Houston’s potent offence at bay.
Piatti came inches away from breaking the Impact’s streak in the 20th minute when his shot from distance rang off the crossbar and landed directly on the goal-line.
The victory saw Montreal leapfrog Toronto FC into ninth in the Eastern Conference.
The Dynamo (5-5-3), who were coming off a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, rested some tired legs to start the game.
Goal-scoring threats Romell Quioto and Mauro Manotas began the game on the bench. Quioto came on in the 58th minute and Manotas in the 63rd, but neither could salvage a point for the visitors.
The Dynamo only took one shot on target, a weak attempt by forward Alberth Elis in the second half, as Evan Bush earned his third clean sheet of the season.
“We tried to bring in some fresh legs in the second half but we just couldn’t score,” said Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera. “The effort and the plan was good, and the execution for 90 per cent of the game was good. But it wasn’t good enough. We could see some players were very tired after our third game in nine days, which is normal.”
It was only the second time this year that Houston, the league’s second best offence, had been kept of the scoresheet.
The Dynamo fell to 0-6-0 all-time in Montreal. They’ve been outscored 16-2 in those six losses.
“This was a hard game but we controlled the play,” said the veteran Fanni. “We stayed compact and we fought hard. It’s complicated to play at a high level if you make mistakes, but today we didn’t make any.”