It had nothing to do with substitutions.
Or the wet turf, the frigid conditions or the personnel on the field.
In a match in which a Union collective were forced to settle for a point instead of three after a 1-1 draw with visiting Montreal Saturday, it came down to one man finishing essentially the one quality look at goal the Impact had all day.
The 37-year-old Impact striker bit the Union yet again with a goal in the 80th minute, taking a cross field pass from Impact midfielder Justin Mapp, and utilizing the space given to bend a shot around Union (1-1-2, five points) goalkeeper Zac MacMath. The goal was DiVaio’s first of season and in his first game played after having to sit out the beginning of the season due to a three-match suspension. In this one, Montreal (0-3-1, one point) will now have to do without another key forward after second half substitute Andrew Wenger received a straight red card for his studs up challenge on Union newcomer Vincent Nogueira.
“There were a lot of breakdowns on that play, "Union manager John Hackworth said after the match. "We don’t defend Di Vaio very well. There was a lot going on in that play that we could’ve done to prevent to never get put in that situation. There were things even when we had the ball. We had a great attack a couple seconds before that. A lot of situations we have to correct this week.”
What will be frustrating is that the goal sullied an otherwise dominant performance offensively from the Union, who was rewarded for great possession, control of tempo and good off the ball work with a goal in the 35th minute, when Jack McInerney played a great curling ball around a Montreal defender and right into the run of Nogueira, who finished with a great shot around Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins. The goal marked Nogueira’s first in Major League Soccer.
“I was happy to be able to get a goal; it’s always good when you can get a goal with your new team,” Nogueira said postgame. “But I am just upset about the result. Scoring goals is not my main task but I am always happy to be able to [have an opportunity] to score.”
The final stat sheet again shows the Union’s knack to create chances and hold possession as John Hackworth’s group held the edge in possession (57.9-42.1), shots on target (5-1) and corner kicks. In a final game before leaving for his U.S. men’s national team call-up, midfielder Maurice Edu had a solid performance, and nearly netted the game winner in the 85th minute after a deflection from a Brian Carroll shot fell to Edu and his driven curler took a deflection over the bar.
“I would have been happy to score another one as it would have made the score 2-0 instead of 1-0 at halftime,” said Nogueira. “We probably would have been able to host that result if it would have been 2-0.”
Though the Union created a plethora of chances, postgame Hackworth was a bit miffed that the chances weren’t converted into goals or more that forced Perkins to have to make a save. That’ll be the focus before next Saturday’s road test against Eastern Conference foe Chicago at Toyota Park (5 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
“I thought we could've been more selfish,” Hackworth said. “We could’ve taken on guys 1v1 in many chances today…a lot of players were reluctant to go 1v1. That hurt us a little bit. We passed the ball an awful lot, but we passed it when we should’ve taken a guy on the dribble and getting a cross off.
Hackworth paused and added:
“We have to have more variety in our attack. I just think its responsibility. I think players need to take responsibility for when they have it. When they have it they have to go for it. There were clearly a lot of situations when guys could’ve taken shots or gone 1v1. We just didn’t do that and you want that balance.”
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org