Tag Archives: Evan Bush

A Copy-Paste Demoralizing Defeat For the Montréal Impact

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

Montréal sports fans are prone to hyperbole. This is no secret, it’s been the truth for a long time. It means we experience the wins as glorious, triumphant victories, and the losses as disparaging, hopeless pitfalls. The Montréal Impact have long been a team whose roller-coaster seasons and inconsistent performances have only fed this tendency. Once again, they have delivered back-to-back performances as different as night and day.

After a July which offered little to cheer for, the Impact ended the month with a thoroughly dominant home win over top-of-the-East Philadelphia Union. Next on the menu, a trip to last-in-the-West Colorado Rapids. Historically, the Rockies haven’t been too friendly to the Impact, but Ignacio Piatti was back, Lassi Lappalainen had a Player of the Week début, and ‘keeper Evan Bush had delivered some spectacular saves. In the spirit of Montréal, optimism was on the menu, regardless of the patterns of the previous month.

Rémi Garde presented an unchanged 4-4-2 formation, which had successfully stymied the Union. This quickly proved not to be the case. Was it altitude? Was it attitude? Unfortunately, all we know is what we saw.

What we saw was a team who hadn’t learned from a wide variety of past mistakes. In 18 previous duels with a certain boogeyman named Kei Kamara, the veteran striker had scored 11 goals against the Bleu-Blanc-Noir. He regularly went unmarked on set pieces and won the vast majority of aerial duels. This led to him scoring a hat-trick in a 6-3 goalfest on Saturday. Kamara even went so far as to win a header on an Impact corner, marking an own goal on the night. His job was made laughably easy by some truly catastrophic attempts by Bush to come off his line. Arguably the “highlight” of the night:

On a night when nobody shone, a harsh light was once again cast upon a team who had been considered a playoff certainty by pundits league-wide just a few short months earlier. We can speculate until the end of time about the source of the Impact’s drastic downturn, which ironically coincides with Piatti’s return to competition. The captain’s return had been lauded as what would be a saving grace to return the Impact to a higher league position.

Yet the team’s problems clearly run deeper than anything one amazing player can solve. We can look at lack of structure, lack of leadership, lack of discipline. We can question the coach’s tactical choices and his relationship with certain players. We can call for changes to the organizational structure and Tweet until our fingers fall off. But at the end of the day, all we can do is watch, cross our fingers, and hang on in this wild ride which will continue until at least summer’s end.

It’s going to a grueling month for the Impact, with 8 matches scheduled between the Canadian Championship and league action. First up, CPL side Cavalry FC visit Stade Saputo on Wednesday, August 7th followed by a trip to the Windy City to take on Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Featured image: Colorado Rapids Facebook

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Home Sweet Homecoming for Montréal Impact

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

It felt like the six long weeks had dragged on interminably, but in fact they flew by. At long last, the Montréal Impact were returning home to Stade Saputo to play their first home match of the season. It was a highly anticipated moment for all who associate with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir and, even from a distance, the excitement was palpable.

However, the match against the first-place Columbus Crew lacked the same excitement that the pre-match build up had provided. Ignacio Piatti is still sidelined by a knee injury, and the Crew have a notoriously stingy defense. Given that the Impact had only scored one goal in the three games Piatti had been absent, few were prepared for an offensive spectacle, and rightfully so.

The first half of the match was largely dominated by the Crew, who passed between the midfield and defensive lines on several occasions, calling goalkeeper Evan Bush into action. On the offensive end, neither wingers Orji Okwonkwo or Harry Novillo particularly impressed as they were well-shackled by the Columbus defense. As the teams left the pitch at halftime at 0-0, many Montréal fans felt the scoreline was more due to luck than to skill.

But sometimes, luck is all you need. Evan Bush launched a long ball, which led to a miscued header between the Columbus central defenders. Striker Maxi Urruti‘s incessant pressing paid off as he seized the loose ball and sprinted toward the goal. Johnathan Mensah did a fine job in getting back to prevent Urruti from shooting, but as he lost his footing, Urruti passed the ball back to Novillo whose first time strike found the bottom left corner of the net. New Impact president Kevin Gilmore rang the North Star Bell with aplomb as Novillo opened his account.

The Impact would get even luckier 15 minutes later, when Daniel Lovitz‘s goal-line clearance was headed directly onto the crossbar and several video angles were not conclusive enough for VAR to award a goal.

Later, fans would be treated to seeing homegrown players Mathieu Choinière and Clément Bayiha come on to the pitch to relieve the wingers and give Columbus something else to think about as they pushed for a goal. Montréal arguably played their best football of the day with these two additions on the field.

Although the performance was far from perfect, it was arguably a perfect day for the Impact players and fans alike. Underneath the nicest weather Montréal had enjoyed all year, fans reunited to create a fantastic atmosphere and the team picked up where they left off in communing with fans both before and after the match.

The Impact have a week to catch their breath before taking to the road once again (after all, it is only barely spring here in Canada!). Next Saturday, they will take on the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Evan Bush: A Rare Bright Spot in a Dark Period for the Impact

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

As I sat down to write yet another post about how a dispirited Montréal Impact threw away yet another match, I rolled my eyes and glanced at my nearby poster. It’s of a quote from Harry Potter: “Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Right now, the situation faced by the Bleu-Blanc-Noir can certainly be described as “the darkest of times.” This season has been chalked up by most as a transition season in part of a larger project. But as fans watch the team play disjointed, passionless soccer and as the owner promises more changes that fans will not necessarily like are on the horizon, it feels like a project that has gone way off the track.

Most will look back on this season, or at least this part of it, as a relative failure. However, while the team is not playing poorly as a whole, several players have made important progress that is being overshadowed by the collective performances. Instead of wallowing in despair, I am choosing to spend my time shining a spotlight on a player who has truly come into his own and stepped up this season: Evan Bush.

The choice of my subject should come as little surprise to Impact fans, but others probably have doubts about how a keeper can be applauded when his team has conceded the most goals in the league (by a healthy margin). This year’s Montréal Impact have allowed 29 goals so far this season, after 13 games. Last year, they allowed double that after the total of 34 games played. They are on track to break a team record for most goals allowed in a season.

However, Bush also leads the league in shots saved – with an overwhelming 64 in a mere 13 games! Bush joined the Impact in 2011, the year before they made the jump to MLS.

That year, he won the Golden Glove for most saves in the NASL. He has also won the same award in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League, the year that the Impact made it to the final. He has racked up over 150 appearances across all competitions, but his MLS performances have rarely garnered as much attention as they have this season.

Much credit for Bush’s improvements can possibly be attributed to the arrival of legendary French goalkeeping coach Joel Bats. Bats not only represented the French national team as a player, but was also a mainstay of Olympique de Lyon, training their keepers (who would become representatives of Les Bleus) for 17 years before joining Rémi Garde’s coaching staff.

Over the years, Bush has been primarily criticized for his hesitation to assert his place in his 18-yard box and his distribution. Since the arrival of Bats, Impact fans have been able to witness Bush coming off his line with increasing frequency and displaying confidence in himself, regardless of the team’s performance.

Bush has also stepped up as a leader figure as his career with Montréal has progressed. That quality is more crucial than ever this season, as he is one of the few mainstays in the team following the massive 2018 preseason overhaul. Never afraid to address the media and well spoken, Bush’s presence is a steady rock in the stormy season the Montréal Impact are facing.

Featured image: Boston Herald

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Montréal Impact shown no southern hospitality by Atlanta United

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, April 28: 4-1 Loss

After a loss to LAFC that was so upsetting I could not even write about it, the morally-depleted Montréal Impact traveled to Atlanta United, where the likes of Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba, and Josef Martinez awaited them. Fans were overwhelmingly pessimistic regarding the outcome of the match. Rightfully so, it would turn out.

Due to injuries suffered by Kyle Fisher, Zakaria Diallo and Rod Fanni, along with Victor Cabrera’s red-card suspension, Rémi Garde was forced to assemble a makeshift defense with the only healthy bodies at his disposal. Daniel Lovitz, Rudy Camacho, Jukka Raitala and Chris Duvall made up the backline as the Impact returned to a 4-3-3 formation. However, it was Nacho Piatti in the striker position, despite Matteo Mancosu and Anthony Jackson-Hamel’s presence on the bench.

As expected, Atlanta brought the game to Montréal. A glimmer of hope was offered in the 14th minute when Saphir Taïder headed in a cross from Duvall to open his MLS account and the scoring. The scoreline would miraculously remain 0-1 until the 70th minute, the Five Stripes enjoying over 70% possession and peppering a litany of crosses into Evan Bush’s area. Regardless of recent scorelines, Bush has truly been standing on his head lately and is largely to thank that the scoreline didn’t enter the double-digits.

For the sixth time in eight matches, the Impact gave up a penalty when Duvall committed a handball offense in the box. Almiron scored and the floodgates opened. A pair of fantastic free kicks from Kevin Kratz and a counter-attack goal from Almiron would seal the scoreline, as the Impact conceded their 16th goal in four consecutive losses.

Several of the same issues leading to the Impact’s recent losses reared their ugly heads once again: indiscipline led to a penalty and a multitude of free kicks around the box. As well, passing was wildly inaccurate. The home loss vs LAFC saw the Impact finish with an abysmal 65% pass completion rate, and in Atlanta, only 69% of Impact passes found a teammate.

The defense was incapable to shut down both LAFC and Atlanta’s dynamic players. When a keeper leads the league in saves while his team simultaneously leads the league in goals conceded, there is an enormous problem. With so many needless opportunities presented to the opposition, it is no surprise that the Impact are shipping in far more goals than they can score.

It is clear that the parity for which MLS was once renowned is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and without investing in competent players, the Impact will be left behind.

The fact of the matter is that the Impact have several contracts on their roster that are very costly to a team which operates on a small budget, notably Matteo Mancosu, Dominic Oduro and Marco Donadel. The trio who were an important part of the 2016 playoff run are now in their 30’s and earn a combined $1.4 million per year (per the 2017 MLS Player Salary List).

Those responsible for negotiating contracts and salaries have left Garde with one hand tied behind his back as he enters the league with a bevy of players who are not up to the current level of MLS on his roster. Underperforming and aging players are difficult if not impossible to transfer, so Garde must work with what he has if the team’s budget will not increase to allow for recruitment more in keeping with the development of the league.

At the end of the year, the aforementioned contracts will expire, freeing up a decent amount of money to pay new players … if it is spent wisely. This year will be a transitional year, it won’t be pretty, and it will separate the diehard supporters from the fair-weather fans.

Up next: The Impact meet with the team who started this losing streak when New England Revolution come to Stade Saputo on Saturday, May 5th.

Featured image courtesy: @impactmontreal

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Montréal Impact receive a cold shower on a hot New Jersey day

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, April 14: 3-1 Loss

Watching Saturday’s match at Red Bull Arena, one would have guessed that the Montreal Impact were the team that had just played their hearts out on Tuesday and that the New York Red Bulls were the fresher team. However, it was just the opposite case. For a team who had spent much of the preseason emphasizing physical preparation, the Bleu-Blanc-Noir played a lethargic, sloppy second half, which saw them lucky to leave New Jersey having only conceded 3 goals.

Despite the debacle that had been last Friday’s match, Rémi Garde persisted with a 5-3-2 formation. Rudy Camacho received his first start in central defense, with Jukka Raitala shifting to the left wing-back position as Daniel Lovitz dropped to the bench. Alejandro Silva was given a more central attacking role in the midfield. Ignacio Piatti returned to the team, which was without their other Designated Player as Saphir Taïder was served his red card suspension.

Knowing that the Red Bulls had suffered an emotional loss to Chivas Guadalajara on Tuesday, Impact fans were cautiously optimistic that their team could pull out a result in a stadium where they had never won during the regular season.

The Impact’s match did not begin well, to say the least. In the 5th minute, Victor Cabrera gifted possession to the Red Bulls, and Bradley Wright-Phillips made his first of many successful runs behind the defense to score the opening goal. The theme of seemingly simple passes going to the opposition would continue throughout the duration of the match.

Thanks to Chris Duvall who saved a ball on the line, and Jeisson Vargas who equalized with a perfectly placed free kick, the Impact were fortunate to enter the locker room at halftime with a 1-1 scoreline.

Although the Impact had played inferior soccer for much of the first half, fans were optimistic that Garde would invigorate his players and adjust his tactics to allow for a more evenly matched second half. This could not have been further from the case. The Impact did not play like a team who wanted to leave Red Bull Arena with any points, instead, it seemed as though they allowed NYRB to put on a clinic.

The version of the team who emerged from the locker room was lackluster, disorganized and uninspired. Despite having three assigned central defenders on the pitch, it was defensive midfielder Samuel Piette attempting to track Kaku as he marauded into Bush’s area, who would score his first MLS goal.

On the third goal conceded by the Impact, nobody in blue moved as the ball was crossed low in front of the net, allowing Michael Murillo to tap it in effortlessly. Time and again, Evan Bush was left infuriated by the lack of defensive coverage, and rightfully so. It was largely thanks to several great saves made by him that the scoreline was not utterly humiliating.

The last two defeats and even the razor-thin victory in Seattle leave many questions that need to be answered, and soon. Is the coaching staff preparing tactics adequately? Were the new signatures not up to MLS level? Is the team as physically fit as they had touted themselves to be? What is to be said of their mental preparation?

The Impact finally returns home to Stade Saputo next Saturday to face LAFC. After Laurent Ciman’s shocking departure to the West Coast expansion side, he will undoubtedly return to Montréal with a point to prove. The Impact, on the other hand, will need to prove that they want to compete.

Featured image courtesy: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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