MONTREAL — Coach Remi Garde wonders if, earlier in the season, the Montreal Impact would have had the patience to beat a team that parks the bus in its 18-yard box.
But what he called a more "mature" Impact side kept working and eventually broke through with two goals from Saphir Taider to defeat the Colorado Rapids 2-1 before 16,030 at Saputo Stadium on Saturday night.
The Rapids (4-11-3) played 10 men behind the ball, clogging the front of Tim Howard’s goal, but it wasn’t enough to stop the surging Impact (8-11-0) from wining a fourth game in a row and a fifth in their last six.
"It’s tough to play a team that’s really organized in their box," said midfielder Samuel Piette. "There’s not a lot of space to play through the lines, so we had to go on the wings and try to put crosses in.
"They have big guys and it was really hard, but it wasn’t frustrating. We knew we needed one goal to win that game. We weren’t stressed about it at halftime. We just had to keep doing what we did."
Taider, who normally plays a two-way game and is not looked to for goals, scored in the 55th minute and added another only a minute later.
Garde had asked him to play further up to support the attack.
"They had a line of five at the back and another line of four and I wanted players in between them, even though they were narrow spaces," said Garde. "We wanted Saphir in between."
Alejandro Silva, the first-year Uruguayan winger who has been finding his game recently after a difficult adaptation to MLS, recovered a ball and fed it to the right side, where Taider shot between Howard’s legs for his first goal.
A moment later, a counterattack saw Silva feed Ignacio Piatti on the left for a lob into the middle that Taider fired in for his second of the game and third of the season.
The Algerian international’s goals were enough, although goalie Evan Bush and the team’s 420-minute shutout string ended when substitute Dominique Badji scored for the Rapids in the 79th minute.
A free kick saw Axel Sjoberg’s shot go off defender Rod Fanni to Badji, who had replaced Yannick Boli in the 50th minute. Badji was alone on the doorstep for an emphatic blast into the net on his seventh goal of the season.
In May, the Impact were 3-10-0 and Garde’s first season as coach looked lost, but their current run has them battling the Chicago Fire for the sixth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
"For sure, the team has grown up a lot," said Piette. "We know each other better than we did two or three months ago.
"A lot of new players, new staff. Now we’re not really changing the starting lineup, which is really good for us. It’s tough to see it happening when you lose eight games out of 10 or whatever, but we knew the season was long. We’ve seen before a lot of teams have a bad start and they come back in the second half of the season. In this league, anything can happen."
Jukka Raitala started at centre back for Montreal in place of Rudy Camacho, who missed training this week with a calf injury and wasn’t dressed. Garde said he will be ready to play Wednesday at New York City.
The Rapids had only five starters from their 2-1 loss Wednesday night to Seattle in the starting 11. One of them, midfielder Edgar Castillo, was suspended for yellow card accumulation.
The Impact began a run of three games in eight days. After New York, they return to Saputo Stadium July 14 against San Jose.