MONTREAL — It’s hard enough for a goalkeeper to stop one penalty shot. Evan Bush had to stop two.
Bush made back-to-back penalty saves on Vancouver’s Yordy Reyna to help the Montreal Impact secure a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on a rainy Wednesday night.
The victory snapped a four-game winless run for Montreal (11-14-4), which jumped back into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
With the Impact already losing 1-0 in the first half, Bush stopped Reyna from the spot but had to do it all over again when the play was called back for encroachment.
"I can’t recall doing that in a game," said Bush, who made six saves. "Maybe in a shootout, but not in a game. Now I have, I guess. This was obviously a must-win game for us at home. We need these points to get back into it. It was extremely important.
"There was a game in 2016 where we played San Jose at home and I had to make a late penalty save in that game. And I remember feeling that was a turning point in the season for us and we got into the playoffs. Hopefully this can prove to be the same."
Following Reyna’s 17th-minute opener, the visitors were awarded a penalty shot when midfielder Samuel Piette tackled Michaell Chirinos in the box in the 21st minute.
Bush dove right and denied Reyna from the spot, but the rebound went right to Tosaint Ricketts for the easy tap-in. It looked like the ‘Caps had taken a 2-0 lead.
But referee Ismail Elfath went to the video replay and deemed both Ricketts and Bush were guilty of encroachment. Reyna re-took the penalty, went right again, and Bush shut the door a second time.
Bush’s teammates swarmed him as the 14,513 fans at Saputo Stadium serenaded the Impact ‘keeper.
"It was just a sign," said Piette of the penalty saves. "That we’re at home, we cannot lose this one, and Bush has our back. He saved us there. We had to respond and help him out. It was the key moment for us."
A frustrated Whitecaps (6-14-9) coach Marc Dos Santos felt Ricketts had done nothing wrong and that his goal should have counted. The loss all but eliminated Vancouver from playoff contention.
"It’s a huge mistake," said Dos Santos, a former Impact coach before the team joined MLS. "There’s no chance it’s called back in Atlanta or Seattle or L.A. No chance. But it’s called right now because we don’t have the full respect of officials. It needs to be clear and obvious.
"The game is changing. I fell in love with another game. This game is robotic. One day, there won’t be players on the field. PlayStation on TV will sell more than real games. It’s becoming so robotic. It’s incredible."
The home team was clearly energized by Bush’s heroics and they returned the favour by scoring twice in a two-minute span.
Maximiliano Urruti’s play in the wide areas led to Montreal’s first goal in the 35th minute. The Argentine striker stripped Derick Cornelius of the ball down the sideline and fired a low cross into the box that went off Doneil Henry and in for the own goal.
Urruti gave Montreal the 2-1 lead in the 37th — one of his game-high seven shots. A cross from Bacary Sagna fell to Urruti, who chested the ball down and volleyed it into the far corner of the net out of Maxime Crepeau’s reach.
The scoreline spoiled the homecoming for the 25-year-old Crepeau of Greenfield Park, Que. The former Impact academy product did his part to keep Vancouver in the game, making eight saves against his old club.
Reyna put Vancouver on the board in the 17th minute against the run of play. Following intense pressure from Montreal to start the game, Reyna got on the end of Ricketts’ low cross for his sixth of the season.
Notes: Both Vancouver and Montreal have five games remaining in the regular season.