Tag Archives: Bacary Sagna

Orji of Beautiful Goals Sees Impact Defeat Timbers

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

After 3 long weeks off for some much-needed rest and recovery during the Gold Cup, the Montréal Impact were back in action Wednesday night at Stade Saputo. Although the break had allowed several players to recover from injury and return to the lineup, the Impact were still short 2 players on the bench. Visiting Portland Timbers were in a similar situation, as they’d done a full squad rotation and had not even brought a full team.

As Orji Okwonkwo and Bacary Sagna returned following injury absences, there remained several question marks around the Bleu-Blanc-Noir. How rusty would the team be? How would they adjust to a 3-4-3 formation, a departure from the usual 4-3-3? Would the players returning from injury be fit enough to contribute meaningfully?

The Impact wasted no time in affirming their desire to create scoring chances. Having referred to the offensive quality as “sterile” or “non-existent” at several points throughout the season, it was truly a breath of fresh air to watch the team set up camp in the attacking third. Okwonkwo and Sagna were notably effective, combining with a chemistry that made it look as though they had played together for months.

After a littany of near misses, Sagna reacted quickly to intercept a pass, deftly sending Okwonkwo behind the defense in the 28th minute. The Nigerian striker put on the afterburners to find himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, and made no mistake, thumping the ball into the roof of the net.

The Impact started the second half a little lethargically, and were made to pay when the Timbers floated in a free kick that Tomas Cocechny headed home to tie the match at 1-1 in the 53rd minute. Montréal promptly woke up and began to play with the intensity they showed in the first half. They were rewarded with the team’s best goal of the season so far, when Victor Cabrera sought out captain Saphir Taïder. Taïder hooked the pass back to Okwonkwo who, from the top of the box, struck the ball on the volley mid-turn, rocketing it into the top corner to score a screamer of a match-winner.

Although the match was very pleasing to watch from a Montréal perspective, especially given how light the squad remains, this 2-1 result should also be taken with a grain of salt. Portland’s approach with a fully rotated squad signified that they were willing to let this match go. Winning a home match is essential, but there will be far stiffer competition to come, and certainly before many Impact players have returned to the lineup.

In the spirit of the condensed schedule, Montréal are off to Mercedes Benz Stadium, where they’ll take on reigning champions Atlanta United who are missing a few of their own key players, but still a tremendously strong team. Yet if the Impact show up with the same hunger that they demonstrated versus the Timbers, anything is possible!

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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A nervy performance allows Impact to seize 3 crucial points versus Fire

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

Saturday, August 18: 2-1 Win

It seems as though the Montréal Impact love to keep fans on the edge of their seats. After several tumultuous weeks – mixed with disappointing results and the excitement of a few new signings – Chicago Fire were in town. Chicago had spent several weeks in a losing skid, but Montréal is also the team who helped the Fire break a 2-year winless road game streak back in 2016, so nobody knew how the match would go.

New arrival Bacary Sagna made his début at right back. After nearly constant turnover at this position throughout this season, with moderate success at best, Sagna’s Premier League pedigree was a welcome change in the lineup. Of course, there were concerns about his ability to keep up having arrived less than a week before the match, with no games played since May, and at 35 years old. Most, if not all, eyes were on him.

The Impact started the match brightly as they had in their previous home match, a draw against DC United. Saphir Taïder drew a penalty from Bastian Schweinsteiger after some very attractive passing play. Ignacio Piatti subsequently hit the back of the net, putting the Impact in the lead. Much as had been the case in the DC match, having scored early, the home side seemed to take their foot off the gas. Chicago had more possession of the ball and spent a good portion of the first half buzzing around the Impact’s 18-yard box.

Worse yet, the Fire dug deep and shifted into high gear after returning from the half-time break. The Impact remained lethargic and conceded the game-tying goal after Nemanja Nikolic struck home a rebound from Evan Bush’s save. It was déjà vu for Impact fans who had seen the DC match – down to the tying goals being scored in the same minute of both games. Fans had seen this situation just two weeks ago, and it looked as though Montréal were about to give up three vital points at home.

Finally, the team woke up following the goal. Substitutes Quincy Amarikwa, Micheal Azira and Jeisson Vargas all helped the Impact lay siege to Chicago’s offensive third. Urged on by the fans’ boisterous cheering, Montréal peppered the area around Ricardo Sanchez’s net without striking the target.

In the dying instants of the match, the Impact earned a corner. It was now or never. The noise in the stadium rose even higher. Vargas struck the dead ball into the midst of a pack of players. A Chicago head cleared the ball, and Daniel Lovitz hit it on the volley, directly into the bottom right of the net.

The stadium erupted as Lovitz took off to celebrate with pure, unadulterated joy. It had been some time since such a ruckus broke out following an Impact goal! As Jukka Raitala had done the week prior, Lovitz scored his first MLS goal, and it may well prove to be a crucial goal in the increasingly tight playoff race.

As for Sagna? He worked up and down the right side of the pitch tirelessly, despite the lack of game time he’d had leading up to the match. It is still too early for him to have the chemistry that other players share, but he certainly staked his claim to the starting right-back role, with a performance that earned him the Man of the Match Award.

Up next is another incredibly important match, of course! Not only are Montréal visiting Toronto FC, enemy number one, the points on the line are bound to have massive implications in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Featured image: Impact media team

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