CF Montreal's Quioto scores pair in pivotal comeback win over Atlanta United
Brian White's hat trick lift Whitecaps past Earthquakes in shutout victory
A marathon run of seven games in three weeks ended with a victory for CF Montreal, with coach Wilfried Nancy left praising his side's effort after the gruelling run.
Montreal secured a crucial victory in the MLS Eastern Conference playoff race on Saturday, beating Atlanta United 2-1 with a whirlwind second half.
Romell Quioto scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season for Montreal (11-10-7) while Jake Mulraney scored Atlanta's (10-9-9) lone goal.
"I'm really proud and happy with the whole team and the staff after this run of games," said Nancy. "You see them run but you forget the mental toll these games take, and the fact that they stayed focus the whole way through was great."
Halftime substitute Mulraney found space behind Montreal's back line and calmly placed the ball into the bottom right corner in the 48th minute.
Two minutes later, Quioto converted a chance and pulled Montreal level after a slew of missed opportunities. From a tight angle to the right of the Atlanta goal, Quioto fired a rocket into the roof of the net.
WATCH l Quioto scores game-winning penalty kick in Montreal's victory over Atlanta:
Less than two minutes after that, Samuel Piette played a perfect ball into a streaking Joaquin Torres, who was brought down for a penalty. Quioto stepped up and confidently tucked it into the bottom right corner to give Montreal the lead.
"These kinds of situations are all mental. The first five minutes after a team scores is very important," said Djordje Mihailovic, who tied Ignacio Piatti's single-season franchise record with 13 assists. "We got on the front foot right after the [second-half] kickoff and we were able to put them on the back foot and press until we got two goals."
In the 70th, Torres had a chance to double Montreal's lead when he was through on a breakaway, but a weak shot couldn't get past Brad Guzan.
"This result wasn't a lucky one, this was earned with hard work," said Nancy. "We're a team that likes to have possession and control the flow of the game and that's not something you have when defending a lead. So it was good to see that side of them come out today."
Montreal got off to a nervy start, giving the ball away in possession numerous times. Just two minutes in, goalkeeper James Pantemis gave the ball away inside the box to Santiago Sosa but was spared when the shot went wide.
"We ask goalies to play with the ball at this club and stuff like that happens to goalies," said Pantemis. "I just have to keep it simple if I run out of options. It just so happens to be in the first minute but thankfully we didn't concede."
Quioto fights through thigh knock
It took Montreal fifteen minutes to find their first sight of goal. Quioto was played through with a clear shot but took too long.
Saputo Stadium seemed to hold its breath when the Honduran stayed down following the play after picking up a knock on his thigh, but he continued to play after receiving treatment. He was taken off in the 65th minute as a precautionary measure and is currently being evaluated by the club.
At the 24-minute mark, Quioto found himself with another chance after a perfect ball from Mihailovic but he put the header wide.
"We do miss a good amount of chances and that just comes down to composure in and around the box. Composure and execution," said Mihailovic. "We did a much better job of that in the second half, getting two important goals and showing that we could be clinical against a really tough team.
Right before halftime, Ezequiel Barco made a mockery of the Montreal defence, leaving three defenders including Pantemis on the ground, and he should have put it away, but sent the shot off the crossbar.
While the first half was a staunchly defensive affair, the second could not be further from the same.
Both teams return to action on Oct. 16 following the international break. Montreal will face off against the Philadelphia Union and Atlanta will travel to Toronto to play TFC.
Brian White's hat trick lift Whitecaps past Earthquakes
Brian White had three goals and the Whitecaps' playoff hopes grew brighter Saturday with a 3-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in Vancouver.
Deiber Caicedo notched an assist on White's second goal of the night and Ryan Gauld was credited with the helper on his third.
Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau had five saves to collect his third-straight clean sheet for the Whitecaps.
JT Marcinkowski stopped 3-of-6 on-target shots for the Earthquakes (8-11-9).
The victory gives the 'Caps a 9-8-10 record on the season with seven games left to play. Vancouver currently sits a single point below the playoff bar.
WATCH l White shakes Quakes with hat trick in Vancouver:
The result also put some distance between the Whitecaps and Quakes in the table, with San Jose now four points behind Vancouver as six different clubs battle for the last three post-season berths in the Western Conference.
San Jose maintained 59.8 per cent of the possession across the first half, but the 'Caps controlled much of the play, outshooting the visiting side 17-11, and 6-5 in shots on target.
White's third goal of the night came off a corner kick in the 73rd minute.
Gauld sent a cross sailing into the box where White used his head to rocket it into the bottom-right corner of the San Jose net.
The goal was his ninth of the season, tying a career-high the 25-year-old set while playing for the New York Red Bulls in 2019.
Another set play deep in Quakes territory gave the 'Caps their second strike in the 59th minute.
Mario Lopez fouled Gauld, setting up the kick just outside the penalty area. Caicedo sent a curling ball in and White leapt up from the crowd to send a header into the top-left corner of the net and put the Whitecaps up 2-0.
White's first of the night came in the 26th minute after he slipped a pass to Gauld from the top of the penalty area and the Scottish attacking midfielder went deep before getting off a solid shot.
Gauld had a prime opportunity early in the game when midfielder Russell Teibert sent him a ball in deep. Gauld blasted a left-footed shot from the right side of the six-yard box but Marcinkowski made the save.
Gauld, the 'Caps newest designated player, had three shots in the first half alone, including two of the team's three shots on target.
The Quakes' most promising chance of the first half came in the 28th minute when Marco Lopez sent a shot skimming over the Whitecaps' net following a corner kick.
Shutout streak for Crepeau, bad blood in 2nd half
Crepeau came into the match riding a 242-minute shutout streak after earning clean sheets in his last two outings.
There was some pushing and shoving in the 54th minute Saturday after the 'Caps 'keeper leapt up and plucked Nathan Cardoso's shot out of the air. Vancouver defender Florian Jungwirth and San Jose's Eric Remedi were both shown the yellow card following the dust-up.
Whitecaps forward Leonard Owusu was cautioned for a bad foul in the 19th minute after taking out Remedi in the midfield. Cardoso received a yellow in the 79th minute for a bad foul on Gauld and his teammate Shea Salinas received a warning for a bad foul in injury time.
The 'Caps will be back in action on Oct. 9 when they visit the Western Conference-leading Seattle Sounders. The Earthquakes are set to host LAFC on Oct. 16.