It was the sixth loss in the row for the Impact, their worst losing skid since joining Major League Soccer three years ago.
After the dismissal of sporting director Nick De Santis on July 30, Impact head coach Frank Klopas was given additional powers by president Joey Saputo. He is now also in charge of player personnel, a responsibility that was De Santis’.
But it will take time for Klopas to put his stamp on the Montreal Impact. The squad was particularly meek in the early stages of the match. A lack of energy ran throughout the squad and results have been hard to come by—something team president Joey Saputo felt was a result of a lack of transactions to bring in MLS-quality players dating back to last summer.
“I’m the coach here. I’m the one responsible right now,” Klopas said, taking ownership of the situation. “Today we were very flat. The reaction wasn’t good.”
Captain Patrice Bernier echoed his coach’s comments.
“Thought we would come out with a little more fire,” Bernier said. “It’s a derby, you play TFC, they’re in a bad spell, we’re in a bad spell.
“We lost a lot of the battles. We found our feet too late.”
Reds On Top Early
Gilberto gave TFC the lead in the 11th minute with an accurate and powerful one-time strike off a volleyed pass from Dominic Oduro. The Brazilian’s shot hit the underside of the crossbar and fell over the goal line with Impact keeper Troy Perkins helpless.
With leading scorer Jermain Defoe not in the lineup due to injury, Gilberto made the most of his opportunity and continued to display his work rate and desire that weren’t rewarded with goals early in the season.
TFC wound up dominating the first half winning two-thirds of duels and doubling Montreal in attempts on goal.
Toronto FC put the result beyond doubt in the 54th minute when Luke Moore scored his fourth of the season. U.S. national team star Michael Bradley delivered a perfect through-ball to find Oduro who blazed past the Impact defense and centered the ball to Moore. Bradley had one of his best games in a TFC uniform.
“Great ball by Mike,” Oduro said. “Overall it was a good combination that led to that goal.”
The Impact had more chances midway in the second half but were unable to get one past the TFC defense and Joe Bendik. The Reds sat back and had a few counterattacks but were unable to further pad their lead.
“In a derby game like this, we should press more, we should have a lot more energy than that. We were our own worst enemies,” Impact goalkeeper Troy Perkins said.
French fullback Hassoun Camara was even more direct with his assessment of the team’s state.
“We have to assume our stature as players. We have to stop talking about Nick De Santis and Joey Saputo,” said Camara. “It hurts to be in this situation right now.”
But if there was a positive for the Impact it was the introduction of academy prospect Anthony Jackson-Hamel, who saw his first action with the team.
“A young kid like Jackson today did very well. [He was] able to hold the ball and be dangerous in the box. I was very happy for him,” said Klopas.
“For me it’s just working, every opportunity, I’ll take them,” said Jackson-Hamel.
The “401 Derby” has now swung in Toronto FC’s favor. Prior to Saturday’s game, six all-time MLS meetings had both Montreal and Toronto winning two each and drawing two. The Impact defeated TFC in the final of the Canadian championship earlier this year and won entry into the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Impact kick off their CONCACAF Champions League campaign on Tuesday at Stade Saputo against El Salvadorean club CD FAS. Perhaps a change of competition is what the Montreal club need.
“It’s the first game of the tournament, you have an opportunity to set it right for the group stage with a home win,” Bernier said. “This is good for the tournament and maybe good for the league.”
The Impact will need to show more energy and determination in order to get a result which could translate into benefits for their flagging MLS campaign.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports