Ignacio Piatti scores twice, Impact beat Real Salt Lake for fourth straight win
MONTREAL—The Impact are in a playoff position for the first time this season but goalkeeper Evan Bush doesn't want his side to get complacent.
Montreal beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 on Saturday, extending its winning streak to four games. The victory propelled Mauro Biello's men into sixth place, and the final playoff position, in the MLS Eastern Conference standings.
Three weeks ago, Montreal was 10th in the East and eight points away from a playoff spot.
“It gives us the belief that there's something there that's attainable,” said Bush, who made five saves against RSL. “Now we can see the bigger picture, we can see the teams ahead of us. Things are starting to come together.
“But just because we won four in a row doesn't mean we can be content. We have to continue to go.”
Montreal, which has won seven of its last eight games on home soil in Major League Soccer, is on its first four-game winning streak since March 2013.
“We've put ourselves in a position to fight for the playoffs,” said Biello. “We're in a position to challenge teams that are just ahead of us. You work hard every day to achieve success and right now the team is in a good rhythm and playing well. I see the team growing in confidence.”
Ignacio Piatti, who is in the middle of contract negotiations with the Impact, scored twice for the second straight game. He has now scored in four consecutive matches.
Piatti gave the Impact a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. The Argentine side-footed home his 13th goal of the season after finding himself on a 2-on-1 with Blerim Dzemaili.
Montreal's leading goal scorer got his second of the night in the 29th minute, just three minutes after Real Salt Lake scored the equalizer. Piatti danced his way around defender Tony Beltran's slide tackle in the box and fired a left-footed shot into the far corner of the net from a nearly impossible angle.
The 19,541 in attendance at Saputo Stadium were convinced Piatti completed the hat trick in the 56th minute but his goal was called back for offside.
“The entire team is playing well,” said Piatti, who has six goals in his last four games. “We need to continue this way. We have a new mindset and that's led to four wins in a row.”
Added Hassoun Camara, who had not played since July 5: “There were a lot of people who were pessimists three weeks ago. But we've stayed focused and are giving everything we have.”
Anthony Jackson-Hamel got the other goal for Montreal (10-8-6), which has now scored three goals in three consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.
Jackson-Hamel put the game to bed in the 47th minute when he combined with fellow homegrown player Louis Beland-Goyette to score his seventh of the season.
“We're having so much fun on the pitch,” said Jackson-Hamel. “The team is larger than life right now and the atmosphere is incredible. When you score three goals in three games in a row, that's huge.”
Luis Silva netted the lone goal for Real Salt Lake (8-13-5) in the 26th minute, firing a powerful shot over Bush's outstretched hands following a give-and-go with Albert Rusnak.
That goal ended Bush's shutout streak at 284 minutes.
“For all that we prepared for them, very detailed about their transition game going forward, I think we got caught flat footed,” said Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke. “But I actually think we did a decent job tonight on Piatti, and he still has two goals. He's a special player, and my hat goes off to him.”
Midfielder Andres Romero, who had only played 19 minutes for Montreal since tearing his ACL in October 2015, came into the game as a substitute in the 74th minute to a standing ovation.
Notes: Real Salt Lake, which had not lost in six straight matches, have conceded at least three goals in eight games this season. â€¦ RSL is 0-3-0 all-time in Montreal.