By Eve Powell // @evejulia9
Friday, April 6: 4-0 Loss
Things were going so well … or so we thought. After picking up 2 consecutive wins while playing a 5-3-2 formation, Rémi Garde’s vision for the Montreal Impact seemed to be taking shape. Then, the team traveled to Foxborough to face the New England Revolution, a team who had also undergone a coaching change in the offseason. Fans were excited to see how the teams would stack up against each other so early in their new seasons.
Trouble announced itself for the Impact when the starting lineup came out an hour before the match. The team was playing a 5-3-2 once again, but Nacho Piatti’s name was nowhere to be found on the team sheet. The Argentinian maestro had not made the trip due to a slight injury. Instead, it was Anthony Jackson-Hamel, returning from his own injury, who took up the position as a secondary striker in Piatti’s absence.
Although the teams began the match on a fairly even footing, the 14th minute changed everything for the Impact. Saphir Taïder was attempting a roulette move, where he turned around and was meant to mislead an opponent with a dribble. As he was mid-turn, NE’s Luis Caicedo stepped in to challenge possession. Taïder’s foot was coming down and his studs made contact with Caicedo’s shin. Referee Jose Carlos Rivero did not hesitate to brandish a straight red card toward the Algerian midfielder. The Impact would now face the remaining 75+ minutes down a man, without either of their Designated Players.
#IMFC down to 10 men early in the game, as Saphir Taider gets sent off. Didn’t look intentional, but he went over the ball and straight into Caicedo’s leg. Painful for Caicedo, could’ve been a serious injury. #NERevs #NEvMTL #MLS pic.twitter.com/Rye3CMpEdM
— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) April 6, 2018
Unsurprisingly, this turn of events resulted in a loss. What was surprising, was how quickly the Impact’s game unraveled, and how there seemed to be no solution to make up for Taïder’s ejection. This was Samuel Piette’s first night wearing the captain’s armband, and he undoubtedly had a Herculean task in trying to lead a group who had just lost their most important player.
The players who were on the pitch after the card played afraid. Passes were sloppy, communication was lacking, and other reckless challenges – including one which led to a penalty – dogged the ten men left on the pitch for the remainder of the match.
Although there is no magic wand a coach can wave to fix his formation or to make the right player magically appear, it remains a mystery what Rémi Garde attempted to adjust in the remaining lineup of players.
Perhaps no event underlines the air of defeat with which the Impact played after the red card than when the much-maligned Dominic Oduro was given his first minutes of 2018 when the result was already sealed. Maybe it was meant to give a player who is actively on the market a few minutes to pull off some magic and up his value, but it seemed like a poison pill from the part of the coaching staff.
The only good thing the Impact will take home with them from New England is that Lyes Ould-Ramoul (LyesMTL) finished second in the eMLS Cup!
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 8, 2018
On the other hand, one can certainly hope that Garde benefits from having a week’s warning that he will be without Taïder’s services, as the player will be suspended for the Impact’s upcoming trip to Red Bull Arena.
Featured image courtesy: @impactmontreal
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