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Austin Aztex end season with loss

By Colby M. White

AMERICAN-STATESMAN CORRESPONDENT

Jamie Watson had a feeling the situation would happen.

The night before Saturday's playoff match against Montreal, the Austin forward thought to himself that he would be lined up for a penalty kick. In his head, he made it; but Saturday night was a different story.

"I thought it would be in a pressure situation too," he said. "I made four out of four this year. It's the same thing I've done all year. ... I should of scored it. "

Montreal knocked Austin out of the playoffs with a 3-2 victory in the second leg of their opening-round series. The score pushed the aggregate to 5-2 in favor of the Impact, sending Montreal into the semifinals against Carolina and abruptly ending an Aztex season during which the team sat atop the league standings for much of the year.

"I'm disappointed for the players because they've worked hard all season," Aztex head coach Adrian Heath said. "My players have done me proud this year."

After a Sam Brill foul just outside the left side of the box set Montreal up with a free kick in the fourth minute, Philippe Billy served in a ball right in front of goal, finding a streaking Ali Gerba, who headed in the goal.

The goal was Gerba's third in four days after he netted two in Wednesday's game to clinch a 2-0 win. Forward Gerba has been the spark for the Impact's offense since his arrival on July 15. The former Toronto FC player leads the team with 12 goals in 15 games.

"He just has our number," Aztex defender Jay Needham said.

Less than five minutes later, Lance Watson chased down the ball in the box and was knocked over by Billy, prompting a penalty kick . Jamie Watson stepped up to take the penalty , but Montreal keeper Matt Jordan made a diving save .

In the 18th minute, a cross from Austin's Kevin Sakuda found an open Eddie Johnson , who whipped in a strong header toward goal that was stopped by Jordan. Less than 10 minutes later, Austin's Maxwell Griffin fought through a scrum for a shot eight yards out, but Jordan made another diving save .

"We've had enough (chances) tonight to win two games," Heath said. "I would settle for the chances we've had again."

Austin found the net just before half after a Jamie Watson flick-on found Maxwell Griffin in the box in the 43rd minute. But Austin needed two goals to tie the aggregate and force extra time.

Four minutes into the second half, Gerba rode Austin's back line just enough to stay onside and calmly scored.

Eddie Johnson levelled the score in the 55th minute, but another Montreal goal, this time from Eduardo Sebrango, sealed the win and ended Austin's season.



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