Star midfielder Piatti returns as Impact held to draw against Revolution

Montreal Impact's Ignacio Piatti comes off the bench during second half MLS soccer action against the New England Revolution in Montreal, Saturday, May 18, 2019. (Graham Hughes/CP)

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact were left rueing their missed opportunities following a scoreless draw at home.
The Impact (6-5-3) were held to a 0-0 draw against the New England Revolution (3-8-3) on Saturday afternoon in Ignacio Piatti’s long-awaited return from injury.

Montreal had the better of the chances, especially in the first half, but could not capitalize. The Impact have one win in their last four games.

"We played with pace in the first half and stuck to our gameplan," said coach Remi Garde. "Our positioning on the field was good. It’s unfortunate we didn’t score in those moments because our level of play dipped in the second half. We didn’t pass the ball as well in the second half and we didn’t create clear chances.

"We need to be more efficient. If we would have played the next 45 minutes with the same quality, we should have won that game."

Impact striker Maximiliano Urruti was the game’s most dangerous player in the first half.

In the 16th minute, he had time and space in the penalty box but his right-footed shot curled wide of the post to Turner’s right. The 28-year-old striker is still looking for his first goal from open play this season.

Saphir Taider came close in the 29th minute when Orji Okwonkwo’s cross landed right at his feet in the box. The designated player only managed a soft shot on target.

Urruti nearly scored in the 33rd when his chip shot beat goalkeeper Matt Turner and trickled towards the net but New England defender Jalil Anibaba cleared the ball off the line. Montreal followed that chance with furious pressure but the Revolution held firm.

Okwonkwo and Zachary Brault-Guillard also had chances in the first half but their shots missed the net.

"We created and got into a lot of good spots," said Evan Bush, who made four saves for his sixth clean sheet. "The energy was there. At moments, though, when we had two or three crosses in a row or a couple of shots, instead of building off that and getting confidence, we got deflated a little because we didn’t score (on) those chances.

"We need to work on that a little bit."

After a first half largely controlled by the Impact, the 15,559 in attendance at Saputo Stadium began chanting Piatti’s name when he came off the bench and began warming up on the sideline in the 55th minute. The Argentine came into the game 11 minutes later to a rousing ovation.

The Impact’s star midfielder had not played since March 16, missing the last 10 games with knee and calf injuries. Montreal went 4-4-2 in Piatti’s absence.

"I’m happy to be back with the team," said Piatti, who is still tied for the team lead with three goals. "I’ve been out for so long. I couldn’t play the whole game but I’m happy we didn’t lose. I want to thank all the fans today. When I’m on the field, I do everything I can for this team and the fans."

The Impact left things late when these teams met three weeks ago in New England, scoring three times in the final 11 minutes for a 3-0 victory.

But New England had a strong second half on Saturday and hemmed Montreal deep in its defensive third at times. The Revolution held on for their second shutout of the year.

"It comes down to everybody working together," said Teal Bunbury, who was stopped twice by Bush. "We were communicating with each other. If one guy messed up, someone was there to back him up.

"It was a scrappy game. A lot of fouling. After coming off a big win in San Jose, getting a point here is huge for momentum."

Notes: Impact defender Bacary Sagna (suspension) and midfielder Harry Novillo (injury) did not play. … Montreal was shown four yellow cards, all in a 10-minute span in the second half. … Samuel Piette will miss the next match for yellow card accumulation. … The Impact have not lost two games in a row this season.

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