MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 2-1 Montreal Impact

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The game in 100 words (or less): The New York Red Bulls have all but clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the MLS Cup Playoffs home-field advantage that goes along with it. With a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact Wednesday night, their six- and eight-point leads on second-place D.C. United and fifth-place Toronto FC — the latter of which has a game in hand on United — are all but insurmountable with three games to play. Jesse Marsch’s side is also favorites for the 2015 Supporters’ Shield, given their four-point lead on FC Dallas, the only other team still capable of reaching 59 points or higher. The Red Bulls moved to 8-0 on the season when scoring first at home, riding a penalty kick from Sacha Kljestan and an elegant chip from Lloyd Sam to three points against a 10-man Impact side that got a late consolation goal from — who else — Didier Drogba.

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Three moments that mattered

15′ — Oyongo handles on the goal line, sees red — We all understand what Ambroise Oyongo was trying to do here, but let’s consider the following: You can either handle the ball on the goal line, get sent off and your team likely still concedes from the penalty spot, or you can let the ball go in and allow your team to keep 11 men on the field. Of course, in the moment it’s impossible to consider all of that.

39′ — Same chips into an empty net, 2-0 — This entire sequence could have gone better for Evan Bush. He could have won the 50-50 ball against Bradley Wright-Phillips; BWP’s blocked shot could have gone anywhere else inside Montreal’s half other than to Sam; and Sam could have gotten the finish wrong. Alas, BWP won the initial ball, the deflection went to Sam, and he chipped Bush expertly.

68′ — Drogba pulls one back from the penalty spot — Sam had to make some kind of challenge on Donny Toia at the back post, but a late, sliding challenge from behind probably wasn’t his best option. As it was, Montreal were awarded a penalty and Didier Drogba converted for his eighth of the season (eight appearances).

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Man of the match: Lloyd Sam

Goalscorers: Kljestan (PK – 16′), Sam (39′), Drogba (PK – 68′)