A surprisingly eventful contest, the hosts were simply better when all was said and done, even if the final scoreline was a close one.
Montréal opened the scoring midway through the first half. A corner wasn’t cleared properly, and it fell to Ismaël Koné on the edge of the area. His low shot was weak, but it ended up going right to Kei Kamara in the box, who then flicked the ball towards goal. It was a lovely instinctive finish, with the ball rolling into the bottom corner.
It was 2-0 moments later. Jonathan Bornstein lost the ball in his own third, and Koné eventually won it before slipping Kamara into space. He then did the rest, slamming a shot towards the near post and into the back of the net.
Chicago were handed a lifeline before the break when they were awarded a penalty. Goalkeeper Sebastian Breza flew off of his line and took out Jhon Durán, who had just taken a shot towards goal. The referee had no other choice than to point to the spot, and Xherdan Shaqiri stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick, even though the keeper got a hand on the effort.
They couldn’t survive the half, though, with the hosts restoring their two-goal lead soon after. Hitting quickly on the break, Kamara played Zachary Brault-Guillard through on goal down the right side, and he blasted the ball into the bottom corner in emphatic fashion.
The Fire were given another gift early on in the second half as they got another penalty. Joel Waterman stupidly shoved Durán in the box, and following a VAR review, the spot-kick was awarded. Shaqiri stepped up once again, and just like earlier, he converted.
That would prove to be the end of the scoring, though, as Montréal held on to their lead to secure three important points.
Thoughts and observations and whatnot
I miss the Montréal Impact.
Soccer in the rain is criminally underrated. The quality of play does drop a bit due to the wet grass, but the aesthetic of players slipping and sliding around makes it a vibe to watch.
Chicago has absolutely been wrecked by the injury bug. They just had so many players out of action, and it led to a really weird starting lineup and bench. The season was all but over by the time this crisis happened, of course, but it’s certainly made the final stretch of the season a lot tougher.
It seems like Kei Kamara will be scoring goals in MLS forever. My kids are probably going to be writing about him finding the back of the net for some team that’s not even been created yet.
The fact that head coach Ezra Hendrickson decided to start defender Jonathan Bornstein in midfield instead of one of Chicago’s homegrowns might say a lot about how he views the youngsters at the club. The decision didn’t pay off, as the veteran struggled for most of the contest.
Both penalties were the right call, even if each decision seemed sort of strange at first. They were both fouls that were committed in the penalty area, which meant that they were both penalties.
A lot of the focus was on Djordje Mihailovic going into the match, but he was relatively quiet on the night. He’s not really found the top-tier form he was playing at before his injury, and that could be a little bit of a worry for the Canadian side. There’s still plenty of time before the playoffs roll around, though, so there’s a chance he’ll be back to his best when it matters most.
All in all this was another good showing from Montréal, but they’ll know that they can’t afford to shoot themselves in the foot like they did on this occasion when the postseason starts. They nearly undid all of their solid work with two dumb plays, and even though they got away with it this time, that likely won’t be the case in the future.
On the Chicago side of things, this was just more of the same meh from them. They weren’t woeful, to be fair, but they certainly weren’t good. The game kind of just passed them by, and if they didn’t get those two penalties then this contest would have been a blowout. This season is now effectively over, and it will go down as yet another disappointing campaign.
Anyone else remember Guly do Prado?
Man of the match - Kei Kamara
Like an MLS version of Thanos, Kei Kamara is simply inevitable.
No matter the team he’s playing for, or the team he’s playing against, or where he’s playing, or when he’s playing, Kamara finds a way to score. He’s near the very top of the league’s all-time goalscoring table, and it doesn’t look like he’s gonna stop anytime soon.
The forward scored twice on this night, and both goals showcased just how lethal he is in the final third. The first was a clever flick that redirected a loose ball into the back of the net, and the second was a beautiful strike that flew past a helpless goalkeeper.
It was yet another matchwinning performance from Kamara, and it almost certainly won’t be his last.