Hassoun Camara and Marco Di Vaio scored one minute apart in the second half to lift the Montreal Impact to a 3-3 draw with Toronto FC in MLS play on Wednesday night.
Trailing 3-1, Camara pulled Montreal (9-4-3) to within one after defenders Steven Caldwell and Ryan Richter failed to deal with a high ball. Camara pounced on it and banged it in past Joe Bendik in the 69th minute before a sellout crowd of 21,700 at BMO Field.
Di Vaio, with his 11th goal of the season, tied it up a minute later after a Richter clearing pass ended up on Felipe's boot. The Brazilian midfielder slipped the ball into Di Vaio who made no mistake from in close.
Up until the 69th minute, Toronto seemed to be in cruise control after Jeremy Brockie, Caldwell and Darren O'Dea opened their MLS scoring accounts in the first half. Toronto seemed en route to posting its first league win at BMO Field in almost a year.
But the home side deflated quickly after Montreal — which stands 17 points ahead of Toronto in the standings — struck back in the second half. Suddenly the visitors seemed faster, with fresher legs.
Brockie had a chance to give Toronto (2-8-7) the win in the 89th minute but his long-range shot hit the post and deflected wide. And Montreal came close in stoppage time when a Caldwell header back to the 'keeper almost found an Impact attacker.
Domination against TFC
The Impact came into the game 0-2-1 record in all play at BMO Field. But Montreal won both games on home turf this season, 2-1 in league play on March 21 and 6-0 — over a thin Toronto team — in Amway Canadian Championship play on May 1.
Toronto has been anything but an offensive juggernaut this season. But it profited from an opportunistic attack, some good running off the ball and poor Montreal defending to take its 3-1 lead.
The Impact seemed to be moving backwards for much of the game. Toronto flank players were often seen waving their hands frantically for the ball as the Montreal defence left huge gaps.
Andres Romero opened the scoring for Montreal 23 seconds after the opening kickoff.
Brockie scored the first Toronto goal and set up the second, with family from New Zealand in the stands.
Bad streak at home
TFC has gone 15 league games without winning at BMO Field.
Toronto's last league victory at its lakefront home was July 18, 2012 — a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids. The team did defeat Sporting Kansas City in Toronto in the second game of this season but that was at the Rogers Centre.
Wednesday's performance marked the first three-goal league performance for Toronto since a 3-2 victory over Vancouver on July 11, 2012. And the goal spree took just 18 minutes.
Some fans may have missed the four goals in the first 24 minutes due to major local traffic issues resulting from a major accident nearby
Coach Ryan Nelsen's team had scored just 14 goals in the previous 16 games. But as the first half came to a close, Toronto was up 3-1 and stroking the ball the field around with considerable flair.
Montreal, meanwhile, has given up seven goals in its last two games, despite the presence of star Italian centre back Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari. The Impact were coming off a 4-3 loss to Colorado, their first home loss of the season.
Nesta was left writhing in pain near the end of the first half, after a poorly timed challenge from Bobby Convey. And an enraged Di Vaio was pointing fingers at Toronto players after Camara went down as the whistle below on the first 45 minutes.
While Montreal's defence looked porous in the first half, Toronto restricted Montreal to one shot on target.
Different team in 2nd half
The Impact wasted little time resuming play after the break. They were doing drills on the sideline as the half-time show ended and the Toronto players returned from the dressing room.
A Di Vaio goal was flagged offside in the 54th minute. Toronto had chances to pad its lead through several free kicks and a Darel Russell shot. Brockie also skied a glorious chance in the 67th minute.
Three skydivers surprised the crowd by landing on BMO Field just seconds before kickoff, in what was a planned stunt. And then the visitors surprised Toronto FC.
Montreal scored 23 seconds in after left back O'Dea failed to deal with a looping ball from Brazilian midfielder Felipe. Argentina's Romero then beat an onrushing Bendik and calmly slotted the ball past Gale Agbossoumonde.
Canadian Dwayne De Rosario holds the league record for fastest goal, after just 11 seconds, for San Jose against Dallas in 2003.
Toronto replied in the sixth minute when Bobby Convey found Brockie in the box, perhaps fortuitously with what looked to be a scuffed shot. Brockie deftly moved the ball from his right foot to his left and roofed a shot past Troy Perkins for his first MLS goal.
Brockie set up the next goal, firing in a 21st-minute cross that an unmarked Caldwell headed in. Toronto could well have been awarded a penalty minutes earlier when Nesta tugged Luis Silva's arm like he was ringing a bell as the Toronto forward raced into the box.
O'Dea earned some personal vindication three minutes later, working a nice one-two with Silva before banging a left-footed shot in.
The game marked the second time in four days that Toronto had faced a conference leader. Toronto lost 1-0 Saturday to visiting Real Salt Lake, which leads the West at 10-5-3.
Wednesday's contest also marked the midway point of Toronto's season. TFC was 2-11-4 at the same point last year, having started the 2012 season with a league-record nine-game losing streak.
Assistant coach Mauro Biello was in charge of the Impact, with head coach Marco Schallibaum serving a one-game ban — his third suspension of the season. The Swiss coach was punished for coming on the field during the Impact's home loss to Colorado on Saturday. Impact assistant coach Philippe Eullaffroy was also suspended for one game for throwing the ball in the direction of Rapids midfielder Tony Cascio.
Toronto FC and head coach Ryan Nelsen, meanwhile, were fined an undisclosed amount Wednesday for violating the league's so-called mass confrontation policy in the loss to Real Salt Lake.
Toronto, which lost defender Doneil Henry and Ashtone Morgan and midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Kyle Bekker to the national team for Gold Cup duty, made four changes to its starting 11.
Gale Agbossoumonde replaced Henry (who would have been suspended anyway after being red-carded last week) on defence with Russell and Reggie Lambe coming in for Jeremy Hall and Osorio. Silva started up front for Danny Koevermans, who opened on the bench.
Striker Robert Earnshaw (calf) came out for a fitness test before the game but did not dress.
New midfielder Michael Thomas, acquired by trade with Sporting Kansas City, started on the Toronto bench. Thomas is the 20th new signing announced by the club since last season.
Montreal's lone change from the team that lost to Colorado was captain Davy Arnaud in the starting midfield. Arnaud, who came on in the second half against the Rapids, suffered a concussion in the May 1 win over Toronto.