With veterans Marco Di Vaio, Patrice Bernier and Ignacio Piatti held in reserve for Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League clash against the New York Red Bulls, the Impact burst to an early lead before it melted away in a 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
"I've never been in a situation like (this) with the amount of injuries that we had, and even guys that we brought here who were not 100 per cent," Klopas said. "But more than anything, and I'm extremely happy to see the young players."
No doubt, youth was the main course for Montreal on Saturday. With the average age of their lineup at 24.5 years old, it was a decidedly young and inexperienced group that took the pitch against the surging Revolution, who hadn't lost in their last five.
But any apprehension the Impact may have carried out onto the pitch quickly faded. After weathering a pair of early New England advances, Montreal pressed ahead and scored in the 13th minute. Futty Danso played it ahead to Jack McInerney, who escaped Andrew Farrell and slid it central for Calum Mallace, who buried it into the back of an open net.
"I was given the reigns to go forward if need be," Mallace said. "We got the ball forward, and I was in the right place at the right time, and I just put it home."
The early lead — or any lead, for that matter — was certainly a welcome surprise for a side who entered the game with plenty of inexperience. But it wasn't long before the Revolution hunted down the equalizer and the go-ahead.
Ten minutes after Mallace's opener, Kelyn Rowe collected a poorly cleared ball and ran parallel with the pipes before he drilled a low shot that slipped through the hands of Troy Perkins in the 23rd minute.
On the second Revolution goal, the Impact's inexperience showed. After Wandrelle Lefevre failed to usher the ball out of his own box, Charlie Davies pounced on it and passed it for Lee Nguyen, who buried the eventual game winner with a deft chip.
"We didn't give up," Mallace said. "We came into this game with the attitude that we're going to give it everything we have. Even though we had some very young and inexperienced players out there, we knew we were going to work together."
To Montreal's credit, Nguyen's goal would be last time that a New England side that had passed with a sterling passing accuracy of 85.1 per cent would find the back of the net. In fact, the Impact would get a golden opportunity to score right after the break.
In the 53rd minute, Eric Miller found himself completely unmarked on the right edge of the area, where he blasted a shot that rattled the right post after Bobby Shuttleworth failed to reach it. The rebound spun in front of the net for the taking before Jose Goncalves rushed over to clear it.
But the Impact's fortunes took a turn for the worse in the 62nd minute after Krzysztof Krol went in on a hard challenge against Rowe in the midfield. Krol, who received a caution in the 47th minute, was booked again for the tackle on Rowe, and his ejection left Montreal short-handed for the remainder of the match.
Nevertheless, Klopas was pleased with the performance. While the scoreline didn't fall in their favour, he was impressed by what he saw from his collection of generally untested, yet spirited side.
"I felt the guys left everything on the field, for sure," Klopas said. "I think that we had a good game by the whole team, with the effort we put forth."Suggest a correction