Impact coach Mauro Biello called Anthony Jackson-Hamel his “ace in the hole.”
Substitute Jackson-Hamel came off the bench and scored the winner five minutes later as the Montreal Impact came from behind to beat Orlando City SC 2-1 on Saturday.
“He’s been super important for us this year,” said Biello of Jackson-Hamel. “He’s scored how many big goals for us coming off the bench. When you have a player like that, who feeds off of tired defenders at the end of the game, who finds spaces that are more open, it becomes effective for me.”
Jackson-Hamel entered a 1-1 game in the 79th minute and scored his sixth goal of the season in the 84th minute as the Impact (7-8-6) snapped a two-game losing skid.
With time winding down in the game, the 24-year-old homegrown player fired a soft roller from a tight angle inside the box that went between the legs of defender Jose Aja and just out of goalkeeper Joe Bendik’s reach.
“When I come into the game, it’s to score goals,” said Jackson-Hamel. “I know I’m going to have one chance and I have to put it away. It’s as simple as that. My whole focus is on that one chance and that’s it.
“The goal is to be a starter, that’s not a secret. But I’ll keeping earning the coach’s trust and I’ll keep scoring goals.”
Jackson-Hamel now has six goals — five as a substitute — in just 468 playing minutes.
Against Atlanta United in April, Jackson-Hamel came into the game in the 82nd minute and scored the game winner in stoppage time. The following week in Philadelphia, he scored twice off the bench to salvage a 3-3 draw. Against Columbus in May, he scored three minutes after coming into the match.
‘He understands his role to perfection’
“His goals-per-minute statistics must be incredible,” said captain Patrice Bernier. “He understands his role to perfection. He’s so calm. He’s always at the right place. He has what natural goal scorers have: a flair for goals.”
The victory put Montreal in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, five points from the final playoff position.
The Impact were down at halftime but Ignacio Piatti got the comeback going three minutes into the second, to the relief of the 20,801 fans at Saputo Stadium — Montreal’s first sell-out crowd of the season.
The Argentine weaved his way through Orlando’s defence before being taken down in the box by Aja. The Impact midfielder would have…