MONTREAL — A late wonder goal from Maximiliano Urruti handed Thierry Henry a victory in his Major League Soccer coaching debut.
Urruti scored the winner from distance in the 80th minute as the Montreal Impact came from behind to defeat the New England Revolution 2-1 in their MLS season opener on Saturday afternoon.
"Maxi, I'm so happy for him," said Henry. "People keep on asking me if he can score. He did. Hopefully that can be a long streak of goals for him. He worked so hard, like everybody else.
"He scored on a play we've been practising a lot. And what a finish. He could have scored three goals today. He got one, and it was the winning goal."
With the game tied 1-1, Saphir Taider sent a deep ball from his own half toward a streaking Urruti. The Argentine forward took the ball in stride and let it bounce once before lobbing it over goalkeeper Matt Turner from just outside the penalty area. Turner allowed two goals on three shots.
The entire Impact team mobbed Urruti to congratulate him as the 21,006 fans at Olympic Stadium cheered.
"For me, the best was the celebration," said Urruti, who scored four goals in 31 games last year. "I'm very happy. My first goal this year. The most important thing is the team. We played very well, 100 per cent of the game."
The goal came seven minutes after New England appeared to have taken a 2-1 lead. Substitute Wilfried Zahibo put the ball past Clement Diop in the 73rd following a free kick. Referee Chris Penso went to the video replay and determined Zahibo was offside.
The Revolution could not recover from that turn of events. New England has not won a season opener since 2013.
"After the VAR, it slowed the game down," said New England defender Henry Kessler. "It's no excuse but it was tough. But that's part of the modern game. It's something that you have to deal with and you have to be ready for — whether you're 2-1 up or it's still 1-1. It's just part of it."
New England (0-1-0) had one more chance to equalize but Tajon Buchanan headed a ball off the post in the 87th minute as Montreal (1-0-0) held on to improve to 5-1-3 in home openers.
First-year coach Henry gave Diop the start between the uprights over Evan Bush, possibly signalling a new era in Montreal. Bush had been the team's regular starter since 2014. Diop made five saves.
Despite playing two CONCACAF Champions League matches to start the year, the Impact looked out of synch to begin their ninth MLS campaign. Their first touches were heavy, through balls did not connect and passes were errant.
The miscommunication was evident when the Revs scored in the 13th minute off a corner taken short. Cristian Penilla sent a cross into the box and Teal Bunbury was left completely unmarked — poor coverage by Luis Binks — for the perfect volley.
The Impact also struggled on set pieces last season.
"We have to work on (set pieces) again," said Henry. "We have to work on a lot of stuff, in all fairness. But, it's a process."
With long-term injuries to captain Jukka Raitala (fibula) and Rudy Camacho (knee), central defenders Binks and Joel Waterman made their first MLS starts.
Things picked up offensively for Montreal and Waterman played a key role in the 37th-minute equalizer when he headed Urruti's corner across the face of goal to Romell Quioto, whose header flew past a diving Turner.
Zachary Brault-Guillard was an important piece of Montreal's offensive strategy. The defender's offensive contribution nearly led to a goal in the 64th when he connected with Urruti in the six-yard box. Urruti's shot squeaked through Turner's legs but the Revs goalkeeper got a small piece of it.
Notes: It was Montreal's first season opener on home soil. … New England's Carles Gil, last year's MLS newcomer of the year, missed the game with a foot injury. … Polish designated player Adam Buksa made his MLS debut for the Revs.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2020.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press