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Matteo Mancosu hands Montreal Impact 1-0 win over New York Red Bulls in MLS Eastern Conference semifinal first leg

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The sensational volley by Matteo Mancosu opened (and closed) the scoring at the Stade Saputo.

Bradley Wright-Phillips attacking the Impact.
Bradley Wright-Phillips attacking the Impact.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

It is half-time in the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals. The New York Red Bulls trail Montreal Impact by a single goal after the first leg, dropping the opening game of the series 1-0 at Stade Saputo. It is neither time for panic nor even to say there is trouble out in Red Bulls land. Indeed, after 20 games without a loss, perhaps there is a sense in which this was bound to happen: a game in which RBNY's luck finally ran out.

Montreal's goal was a masterful strike by Matteo Mancosu. It wasn't one about which anyone can really complain. It was created by Marco Donadel's long ball and Mancosu's beautiful volley.

Perhaps this loss came at just the right time. For 20 games, the Red Bulls have been unbeaten. That is the story no longer. The story now is simply the playoffs and whether RBNY can get the win necessary to get to the next round.

"I think it was a good game. Congratulations to Montreal: I thought even with heavy legs they fought and battled hard. Obviously, a lot of fouls in this game and we were out -fouled two to one," said Jesse Marsch, noting the way games get managed a little differently in the post-season.

"That's clearly an emphasis, you have to fight for every inch and that's what the playoffs are all about. In certain areas our team played well and one play cost us. We walk out of here without a goal. But, given everything, we put a lot into it. It's only half-time and we are happy to get back home."

There were a lot of physical battles on the field. We saw Sacha Kljestan getting double-teamed, even triple-teamed at times by the Impact defenders. It was very clear that targeting Kljestan was part of Mauro Biello's game plan. The RBNY playmaker was forced to deal with a lot of pressure, on and off the ball, in an effort to keep him subdued and deny him the space he needs to operate at his best.

But there were plenty of chances for the Red Bulls to open the scoring. Bradley Wright-Phillips had a great ball inside the first three minutes of the match from Kemar Lawrence, but Evan Bush anticipated the striker's intention and stifled the chance.

In the 29th minute, BWP got another chance to attack the area. He pushed the ball away from an oncoming Bush and it looked like a slight touch might have taken Bradley down inside the Montreal area, but referee Robert Sibiga saw nothing more than a goal kick.

The score was 0-0 at the half, but the Red Bulls came out strong for the second 45 and had perhaps their best chance for the away goal in the 52nd minute. Felipe slapped a free kick off the front of the crossbar, but the strike served merely to shake Montreal awake. Less than 10 minutes later, the home team had the lead.

Kemar Lawrence had a fabulous day marking the dangerous Dominic Oduro. Every time Oduro had the ball, it seemed Lawrence was there to shut the speedy winger down. Sadly, Kemar picked up a slight tug in his hamstring late in the match and asked to be subbed out quickly. We wait to see if he caught the issue quickly enough to preserve his availability for next weekend's game.

Sadly the Red Bulls will be without Israeli international Omer Damari as he was sent off inside the second half of stoppage time. He delivered a reckless and hard challenge on Callum Mallace along the near side touchline. He got the ball with the front leg, but sadly caught Mallace with the trailing leg and it was an easy decision for the referee to show the red card.

But while this loss broke a streak, it did not break the Red Bulls. It would've been great to leave Stade Saputo with a draw, but only conceding one goal is still a solid result. It is enough to head back to Red Bull Arena, where the Impact have never won a match, knowing a two-goal win will carry RBNY through.

Jesse Marsch will have the boys ready to go in the second leg and we shall see if they can take a lead and prevent an away goal against them when they host the Impact next Sunday at Red Bull Arena.