HARRISON, N.J. – The Montreal Impact were on the brink of victory, but a returning Connor Lade spoiled the party to help the New York Red Bulls bow out of the CONCACAF Champions League with a result.
An already-eliminated Red Bulls team comprised only of reserves played to a 1-1 draw with the Impact in their Group 5 finale on a rainy and cold Wednesday night. Jack McInerney had scored what looked to be the winner in the 71st minute, but Lade came through with a goal six minutes from time to cap his return from a loan to the New York Cosmos.
The result ended the Impact’s perfect run in the competition, as the group winners moved to 3-1-0 and now have to wait to see how teams in other groups do before seeing what seed they end up with for the knockout rounds in 2015. New York finished at 1-1-2 in the tournament.
Lade scored the equalizer 13 minutes after McInerney found the opener, getting on the end of a pass from Armando and slipping a shot from close range past Evan Bush. The goal was the first of Lade had ever scored at Red Bull Arena.
McInerney, helping to fill the void left by the suspended Marco Di Vaio, netted before that thanks to an Andres Romero assist. Romero dribbled down the left side of the penalty area and hit a low cross that McInerney tapped in from close range.
There were few chances in a mundane first half that saw Montreal hold onto the ball better but do little with it. McInerney missed on the opening 45 minutes’ best opportunity, floating a ball over Ryan Meara and agonizingly over the crossbar.
In the 54th minute, Marius Obekop had a good look go just wide. Obekop received a pass on the right side of the penalty area and cut back on his left to create some space before bending the ball a foot behind the far post.
Nakajima-Farran had Montreal’s first real chance of the second half three minutes later, hitting a tepid shot that Meara pounced on.
Both teams will now shift their gears towards their MLS season finales. Montreal hosts D.C. United at Stade Saputo on Saturday, and New York visits Sporting Kansas City on Sunday before moving onto the playoffs.