Tag Archives: Eve Powell

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

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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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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Nightmare for Montreal in New England

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

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.

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!

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

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

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Painting the Emerald City Bleu-Blanc-Noir

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

  1. Victory @ Seattle Sounders

Saturday, March 31: 0-1 Win

Montréal Impact fans will remember several facts about Saturday’s match at Century Link Field. In two consecutive matches, the Impact have defeated both the MLS Cup holders and runners-up. They’ve also posted their second clean sheet of the season while claiming an invaluable first road win of 2018. All of the above statements are true, however, the Impact’s win over the Sounders was nowhere near that simple!

Following a two-week international break, the Impact took to the skies. Rémi Garde’s troops were faced with the task of trying to get a result in a notoriously hostile territory. With crucially important players like Saphir Taïder and Samuel Piette having returned from overseas only a few days before making the cross-continent voyage, circumstances were not ideal.

The Impact presented their adversary a 3-5-2 lineup once again, featuring the same players who stifled Toronto FC aside from Chris Duvall, who made his 2018 season début in place of the injured Michael Petrasso.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Starting XI. Image courtesy: @impactmontreal

After a somewhat lethargic start by both teams, the first half of the match saw a fairly even distribution of chances. Jeisson Vargas struck a well-hit free kick in the 17th minute, requiring Stefan Frei to make his presence known. The Impact’s defense, meanwhile, were caught on their heels and allowed Nicolas Lodeiro to remain completely unmarked at the top of the 18-yard box, where his first-time strike went narrowly over Evan Bush’s crossbar.

It was anyone’s game to win until the 40th minute. Daniel Lovitz took exception to a challenge made by Kelvin Leerdam and gave the Seattle player a shove in the chest. Leerdam responded by slapping Lovitz in the face. After consulting VAR, referee Ismail Elfath issued a red card to Leerdam. For the third time in three matches, Seattle were down to 10 men.

During his half-time interview with TVA Sports’ Nicolas Martineau, coach Garde stated that he had cautioned his players against complacency in the second half, as some teams draw energy from a sense of injustice when they go down a man. This was indeed the case for Seattle.

Despite having a man advantage, Montréal spent a large portion of the second half defending crosses and set pieces. Although Victor Cabrera and Rod Fanni demonstrated a growing partnership and understanding, the defense as a whole did not appear to be near as organized as in the previous match. Thankfully Bush was well-positioned each time a Seattle shot found its way toward his net.

In the 60th minute, the Bleu-Blanc-Noir made a rare foray into Seattle’s attacking third. Taïder’s pressing allowed him to deftly flick a poached ball to Piatti, whose dribble left Torres and Marshall befuddled. Piatti found his Chilean teammate, and Vargas found himself in the perfect spot to neatly tuck the ball into the far corner of the opposition’s net.

The final half-hour of the match saw Rémi Garde limit himself to two substitutions once again. Anthony Jackson-Hamel continued his return from injury, and Alejandro Silva made his début, relieving Ken Krolicki who put in his best performance yet.

Those thirty minutes also featured an Impact who demonstrated shades of old habits – some set pieces led to a defensive scramble and very few headers were won the first time. However, Bush’s excellent save on a Lodeiro chance in the 84th minute allowed the Impact to stake their claim to another clean sheet.

The twenty or so Impact fans who made the long journey to Century Link Field were undeniably thrilled to see their team take three hugely important road points.

Although the performance was arguably the least convincing of Rémi Garde’s short time in charge, the team can begin to build off the momentum of consecutive victories as they prepare to take on a hot New England Revolution in Foxboro next Friday night.

Featured image courtesy: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

A Long-Distance Relationship With My Team

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Get to know me

I’m Eve. I’m a teacher who lives in small-town New Brunswick, Canada. I am one of the two Montréal Impact fans that I know here (the other one is my mom!). How on Earth did a girl from a small-town Hockeyville come to be a diehard Bleu-Blanc-Noir supporter?

I come from soccer fan stock – my father and brother are lifelong supporters of Manchester United. Nothing about their shiny, faraway team with its sleekly coiffed superstars spoke to me though. So I watched the EPL, and World Cups, with the vague appreciation of a neutral.

My family had been aware of the Impact’s existence for some time, even before they joined MLS, due to my brother’s travels with our provincial soccer team. However, we lived in NB, and team’s matches weren’t broadcast on a network we received … So they kind of fell off the radar for us.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Map of Canada showing provinces. New Brunswick (NB) is an eastern province.

Then came Didier Drogba. I wish my story were more inspiring or exciting, but instead, it makes me cringe a little. My mother has her own version of a “Fantasy Football Team”. Dear reader, I’ll spare you the details, but it is comprised of veteran/retired players whom she adores. Drogba just so happens to be a part of her Fantasy XI and when news of his arrival in Montréal reached even our little corner of NB, she found a way to watch him.

It’s hard to describe what happened the first time I tuned in while on the couch one September evening. Maybe my mother’s girlish excitement was contagious, or maybe it was my own “coup de foudre”. I found myself actively cheering for the Impact.

I distinctly recall that game – it was Drogba’s first start, and his first hat-trick for the Impact. Although that was obviously quite an important part of the match, I recall so much more. Piatti and Romero lighting up the attack, the ever-classy Justin Mapp orchestrating midfield attacks, the drama of the back-and-forth scoreline.

I was more than interested, I was invested. And when Bernier scored in the knockout round win over Toronto FC and tore off to the sideline clutching the crest on his jersey, I fell in love.

Since that late summer night, I have lived, eaten and breathed Bleu-Blanc-Noir. I have given up most Saturday night socialization in favour of watching matches on TV with my mom. We have made three trips together to watch the team play (including one across the country), with another planned for this summer.

I’ve made great friends and found a place for myself in the #IMFC community on social media and am so excited to share my thoughts and feelings on my team via this new platform.

Featured image of mom and me courtesy: Eve Powell

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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Bienvenue Chez Vous, Monsieur Garde: Montréal Impact’s home opener versus Rival TFC

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, March 17: 1-0 Win

The Montréal Impact opened their 2018 season as many new faces began their journey with the team. It was clear the players were still getting to know each other, and that new manager Rémi Garde was still getting to know the league. On Saturday, they returned to Olympic Stadium, to play the home opener against none other than their arch nemesis, Toronto FC.

What the Impact had shown so far in 2018 was that they needed to concede a goal or two to begin competing with their opponent. Many fans feared that if the Bleu-Blanc-Noir allowed TFC’s formidable attack to launch wave upon wave of offensive maneuvers, that the home side would be made to pay early and often.

Everything about the game came as a surprise – including the team formation. Garde presented a 3-5-2 with 36-year-old Rod Fanni making his début. Fans of the Impact were surely haunted by memories of experiments with such a formation last year, however, Garde had a plan to even out the numbers in the midfield.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Montreal Impact facebook page

Saturday’s match was certainly physical as was the case in many previous Canadian Classico clashes, yet the match began with the teams feeling each other out tactically. It quickly became obvious that the Impact was willing to concede possession in favour of regrouping and choosing opportune moments to step in and start a counter-attack.

Fanni demonstrated an aptitude for taking on Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco without the same complex that has plagued former Impact players. Samuel Piette made a series of wonderful interceptions to poke the ball from the toes of Giovinco and Bradley. Saphir Taider developed a solid partnership with Piette and the two were largely responsible for launching counter-attacks.

In the 40th minute, Piette robbed TFC skipper Michael Bradley of possession. The ball was quickly played to Taider, who passed it to Piatti who did what he does best: dribbling at defenders and drawing players to him like moths to a flame. This left Vargas space to shoot from the top of the box and score the lone goal which would determine the outcome of the game.

The Impact’s lack of finishing meant that a few other opportunities to put the game to bed went unclaimed, and early in the second half, Greg Vanney made some adjustments to TFC’s formation, allowing the visitors to further dominate possession and set up camp in the Impact’s half.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Montreal Impact facebook page

That is not to say that the game was won after Vargas’ goal! Although the Impact’s defense seemed to jell really well, Evan Bush still made several saves. In the greatest “heart-in-throat” moment of the match, Bush got a hand to Altidore’s strike, however, the ball was still trickling behind him. Michael Petrasso saved the day, and the three points, with a goal-line clearance.

It was sweet to finally taste the first victory of the season, and all the sweeter coming at the expense of a bitter rival.

Although the Impact spent a good portion of Saturday’s match on the defensive, there was clear intent behind Garde’s choices. TFC players and fans may claim a CCL hangover handed the Impact the win, but undoubtedly those who identify with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir will feel reassured that things are heading in the right direction.

Next on the calendar: Due to the FIFA break, no match until Saturday, March 31st, when the Impact will make another cross-continent trip to Seattle to face the Sounders.

Featured image courtesy: @impactmontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale