Hickey: Impact booed after giving up three-goal lead to draw a tie versus Dallas

Montreal held a comfortable 3-0 lead at the 56th minute mark, but Dallas FC stormed back as the away team.

Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush makes a save against FC Dallas during the second half of the game at Stade Saputo. Eric Bolte / USA TODAY Sports

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A chorus of boos rained down Saturday on the Impact, after the team squandered a 3-0 lead and had to settle for a 3-3 tie against FC Dallas at Saputo Stadium.

Set pieces have been the Impact’s Achilles heel and that was the case again as Ryan Hollingshead went high in the air to head a corner kick from Michael Barrios for the tying goal in the 90th minute.

It was a disappointing result for a team that desperately needs wins to stay in the MLS playoff race. After a promising first half of the season, the Impact is 2-6-1 in its last eight starts and is mired in what has become a five-team race for the last two playoff spots in the MLS Eastern Conference.

The lone consolation Saturday was that three other teams in that race — New England, Orlando City and Toronto FC — also tied. New England stands sixth with 35 points while Montreal, Orlando and Toronto are tied for the seventh and final spot at 34. Chicago beat conference leader Philadelphia to join the race with 33 points.

Coach Rémi Garde said he couldn’t take any consolation from what was a disappointing result.

FC Dallas came to life after the third Impact goal. Evan Bush made a save on Barrios, but lost his clean sheet when Zdenek Ondrasek scored off the rebound in the 59th minute. Barrios worked his way deep into the box two minutes later, but Bush was able to make the save.

Reto Ziegler cut the Montreal lead to one goal when he scored on a penalty in the 85th minute after Ken Krolicki was called for a hand ball in the box.

Montreal Impact midfielder Lassi Lappalainen (21) reacts after scoring a goal against FC Dallas during the first half at Stade Saputo on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. Eric Bolte / USA TODAY Sports

Before Dallas made a comeback, Lassi Lappalainen scored his third and fourth goals of the season to give the Impact a 2-0 lead in the first half.

The Impact broke out on top when Lappalainen scored in the eighth minute. Daniel Lovitz attempted to deliver a through ball to Lappalainen in the box, and even though Dallas defender Matt Hedges was in position to cut off the pass, he misplayed the ball and Lappalainen was alone to score on a shot to the left post against Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.

The 20-year-old Finn doubled the Montreal lead when he scored in added time at the end of the half. He picked off a pass by Jesus Ferreira and was off to the races. He beat two defenders into the box and again beat Gonzalez with a shot to the left of the goalkeeper.

“I’d rather win and score no goals,” said Lappalainen. “I don’t know about the other guys, but my legs were a little tired. We didn’t press as much and we gave control to them. Then we get an unlucky hand ball for the second goal and then the set piece on the tying goal”.

Lappalainen also picked up an assist on Orji Okwonkwo’s seventh goal of the season in the 56th minute, but most of the credit goes to Okwonkwo, who managed to get his toe on a cross from Saphir Taider.

Montreal Impact midfielder Bojan Krkic (9) reacts after being fouled during the first half of the game against FC Dallas at Stade Saputo on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. Eric Bolte / USA TODAY Sports

Bojan Krkic, who was once touted as the next Lionel Messi, made his first start for the Impact and played 60 minutes. He showed signs of rust. He had one shot, which landed 20 rows into the east end stands, and his passing accuracy percentage was 61.5 per cent while the Impact, as a team, was at 83.4.

Garde said it would take some time for Bojan to get in sync with his teammates, but with only seven games remaining in the regular season, the Impact doesn’t have a lot of time.

Ballou Tabla, who was groomed in the Impact academy, made his first appearance since returning on loan from Barcelona. He replaced Okwonkwo in the 71st minute and made two dangerous runs into the box, but was unable to produce a shot.

The Impact is back in action next Saturday with a road game in Toronto.