Tag Archives: Montreal Impact

Montreal Impact start their quest for the Voyageurs Cup on the right foot

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Wednesday, July 18, 2018: 1-0 Win (Leg 1)

The Canadian Championship is a cup competition filled with mid-week matches, inter-league matches, and bench players earning some playing time. This year, it isn’t even being shown on TV. From an outside perspective, it probably doesn’t seem too important.

But it is. Winning the tournament and lifting the Voyageurs Cup trophy is the only way for Canadian soccer teams to secure a berth in the CONCACAF Champions’ League. The Montréal Impact know all too well the prestige, the excitement and the emotion associated with this competition, being part of a very small group of MLS teams to reach the CCL final, where they suffered a heartbreaking loss in 2015.

Head coach Rémi Garde and his staff are new to MLS, but they are familiar with the European equivalent, the UEFA Champions’ League. However, as the Impact seem to just be getting their season on track after a disastrous start, there was some concern about whether the coaching staff would accord the competition the importance that it has long held in the hearts of Impact fans and players.

Wednesday’s lineup for the first leg of the semi-final against the Vancouver Whitecaps left little doubt as to whether Garde took this competition seriously. Several key starters, including Saphir Taïder, Alejandro Silva, Rudy Camacho and Daniel Lovitz started the match. Samuel Piette donned the captain’s armband, and he was one of the required 3 Canadian players on the pitch along with Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Michael Petrasso.

Despite a slight shakeup in the lineup, the Impact put forth another organized performance. A heavily rotated Vancouver squad, notably not featuring Canadian superstar in the making Alphonso Davies, only managed one shot on target during the entire match. After pressuring the Whitecaps’ defense for the majority of the game, Silva was rewarded with his second goal of the season in the 58th minute, after he started some give-and-go with Jeisson Vargas and Taïder at the top of the ‘Caps’ 18-yard box.

To further emphasize Garde’s desire to win, Ignacio Piatti made a substitute appearance, but the game would finish 1-0 for the Impact, marking their sixth consecutive win at home. As the cherry on the sundae, young Homegrown signing Matthieu Choinière received his first minutes as a professional player in the last 5 minutes of the match. Fans were just a little bit excited to see him make his début!

Indeed, many will feel that the 1-0 scoreline does not adequately reflect the team’s performance. In fact, Jackson-Hamel hit the post with a header, as well as the crossbar with what would have been a spectacular shot. However, the sense of mild disappointment with the scoreline is more a testament to the progress the team as a whole has made since the dark days of conceding 4 or 5 goals per match than to the underwhelming attack, which should soon receive an injection of quality with the all-but-officialised arrival of striker Jimmy Briand.

The Impact will continue to push through their busy month with a cross-country trip to the formidable Providence Park on Saturday, July 21st  for an MLS match against the Portland Timbers. The West Coast visit wraps up with the return leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final in Vancouver on Wednesday, July 25th.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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Montréal Impact keep on rolling against the tremulous San Jose Earthquakes

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, July 14, 2018: 2-0 Win

After crashing down to Earth with a sobering 3-0 loss away to NYCFC, the message from coaches and players alike was “We want to bounce back.” Saturday’s match against San Jose Earthquakes, who are currently bottom of the Western Conference standings provided a perfect opportunity for the team to accomplish their goal.

After rotating the squad for the mid-week loss, Rémi Garde elected to field his A-team at home. Rudy Camacho, Ken Krolicki, Alejandro Silva, Matteo Mancosu and Chris Duvall returned to the starting lineup. A notable absentee was Rod Fanni, who missed out through illness. Some fans were concerned about whether a central defensive pairing of Camacho and Jukka Raitala would prove as effective as Camacho-Fanni, and there was only one way to find out.

The Impact started the match brightly, with some fantastic give-and-go play between Mancosu, Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taïder leading to the Algerian’s fourth goal of the season. The chemistry between Taïder and Piatti was perhaps best evidenced by the first-touch passing between the two, the confidence that the other would be there to receive the ball. Mancosu, despite his abysmal goal tally this season, also deserves credit for his placement on the left side of the opposing 18-yard box when Piatti moved to the centre of the attacking group, as he was, therefore, ready to pass the ball to Piatti who laid the ball off for Taïder.

In the celebration of that goal, Piatti and Taïder came together to hold up an Impact jersey — Marco Donadel’s #33. Donadel was waived by the Impact a few weeks ago, and this match was the last he would be attending before his rumoured return to Italy. Piatti and Taïder chose that moment to recognize the significant role he had played in the team during his three and a half seasons with the Bleu-Blanc-Noir.

Although ‘keeper Evan Bush was called into action at the end of the half, the real talking point of the game would not be the Impact’s superior collective performance.

Instead, all eyes outside of Montréal are on the implosion taking place – very publicly – within the Earthquakes’ team. Two early substitutions, Anibal Godoy and then his replacement Fatai Alashe, perfectly encapsulated the level of discord with that team and likely made the Impact’s win all the easier. The frustrated body language of the visiting players on the pitch betrayed some deep internal problems which undoubtedly contribute to their current position in the standings.

Despite Piatti scoring another goal to end the match on a positive note, with Alejandro Silva notching yet another assist, arguably the biggest highlight of the match would be when the referee tackled Samuel Piette to the ground.

Thankfully, it will take more than that to take out the defensive midfielder! Somehow, the referee escaped a booking for his blatant attempt to play the man and not the ball!

I had the immense pleasure of being present at Stade Saputo this match as well, in Section 132 with the Ultras de Montréal 2002. The capo was on fire, and got several other sections involved in chanting for the team! And woe be unto you if they caught you taking a break.

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Stade Saputo. Image: Eve Powell/mlsfemale

The Impact are about to face a lot of Western competition, with Vancouver Whitecaps visiting Stade Saputo for the first leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final on Wednesday, July 18th. On Saturday, July 21st, the Impact will attempt to improve their MLS road record and take on a stingy Portland Timbers defense in the Rose City. The road trip will wrap up with the second leg of Canadian Championship semi-final at BC Place on Wednesday, July 25th.

Featured image of Samuel Piette: @impactmontreal

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Montreal Impact Test Their Depth … and Fail in NYC

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Montréal Impact were coming into an incredibly busy July schedule on a hot streak, with four consecutive wins and 5 in 6 matches. With the impending load of 6 matches in 17 days, eventually Rémi Garde was going to have to rotate the team, whose lack of depth he had previously deplored. The first opportunity to see several players make their return – or their début, as in the case of Shamit Shome – to the starting lineup.

The lineup also featured 5 Canadian players (Piette, Shome, Jackson-Hamel, Edwards and Petrasso) which is of interest as the upcoming Canadian Championship competition requires a minimum of 3 Canadian players in the starting lineup for each team. Whether their presence was preparation for those matches, simple rotation, or a chance for some bench players to compete for more playing time, only coach Garde can say.

What anyone who watched that match can say is that none of the players on the pitch rose to the occasion. The Bleu-Blanc-Noir failed to register a single shot on target and capitulated in the second half to lose 3-0 to a heavily rotated New York City FC.

Image: Tisha Gale/mlsfemale

Although none of the Canadians returning to the lineup will want to remember their performances, two notable disappointments were Homegrown Player Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Raheem Edwards. Jackson-Hamel had made a name for himself last season as a supersub who could come off the bench and score goals late into games. With starting striker Matteo Mancosu’s aversion to scoring goals continuing into its second season, Jackson-Hamel was given a chance to claim a position which is very much up for grabs. Meanwhile, Edwards had lost his starting position on the right wing when Alejandro Silva‘s form picked up, and also had his moment to prove his worth.

Both players had previously been publicly criticized for a lack of effort during training earlier this season. Initially, it seemed, they responded to criticism with strong performances in a 4-2 win over New England Revolution. However, in the pair’s first start since May, fans were subjected to watching them play at a jog, with little effort put into winning 50/50 balls and a distinct lack of creativity and tactical awareness. Coach Garde was equally unimpressed, as Jackson-Hamel and Edwards were both substituted in the 59th minute.

On a final note of interest, owner Joey Saputo was present at the match. Rémi Garde will hope that the man holding the purse-strings appreciated the opportunity to witness first-hand the difference in quality of players on Montréal’s bench and that of NYCFC.

On Saturday, July 14th, the Impact return home to face San Jose Earthquakes, a team whose quality has also been deplored … by one of their players. It should be interesting to see how the two squads crying for an injection of talent face off.

Featured image of Samuel Piette: @impactmontreal

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Montreal Impact Just Can’t Shake that Winning Feeling

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

The Montreal Impact came into their match against the Colorado Rapids riding a three-game winning streak, and had set a new team record of over 340 minutes played without conceding a goal. For a team that was 3-10-0 just a few matches earlier, and that had flirted with the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, things were really coming together for Rémi Garde and his troops.

Alejandro Silva delivered a pair of assists on a Saphir Taïder brace that would seal Colorado’s fate, as the Impact picked up a fourth consecutive win with a dominant performance over a struggling team. However, the clean sheet streak broke at 420 minutes when Colorado picked up a sloppy consolation goal near the end of the match. Considering that it was just six short weeks ago that the Impact, who marked 7 hours kept off the scoresheet themselves, it seems a bit out-of-place to complain about conceding a goal!

Although Taïder would reap the glory as he scored the goals that sealed the 3 points, it would be wrong to ignore the enormous contribution that Silva provided to the team. As is sometimes the case with new players, Silva’s adaptation to the team and the league didn’t happen overnight. As Coach Garde experimented, Silva played in several roles, including right back and the #10 spot, with limited success.

However, he has enjoyed a run of matches starting in his preferred role of right winger. The consistency has allowed fans to discover the dynamic player who they watched in highlight videos upon his signing, but he hadn’t scored a goal despite numerous chances.

In the match prior to the Colorado game, Ignacio Piatti allowed Silva to take a penalty shot. Crossing the threshold of scoring his first goal for the club clearly further bolstered the Uruguayan’s confidence as he took his performance to a new level in the victory over the Rapids, not only with his two assists. Silva’s defensive contributions, vision for open space, and dribbling kept the Colorado players busy and lightened the workload for his teammates.

This match was a special one, not just because the Bleu-Blanc-Noir are finally stringing together performances resembling a competitive soccer team, but because I have made my annual pilgrimage to Stade Saputo. For those of you who are unaware, I am a long-distance fan, as I live in another province.

For this match, I joined one of the supporter groups. 1642 Montréal occupy the end of the stadium with the North Star Bell, which rings for Impact goals and victories. I can’t thank everyone in Section 114 enough for their fabulous welcome and for the ambiance they contributed to the stadium! 90+ minutes of singing, cheering and jumping were enjoyed!

July is a busy month for the Impact, as there are 7 games on the schedule with a combination of 5 MLS matches and 2 Canadian Championship matches to play. The sequence of midweek matches begins as Rémi Garde learns that sometimes in MLS, we play soccer in a baseball stadium as the Impact visit NYCFC on Wednesday, July 11th.

Featured image: @impactmontreal

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June Brings a Month of Highs Following the Impact’s Struggles

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

It has been a roller coaster start to the summer for the Montréal Impact. Fans are used to highs and lows with this team, and as the month of May wound to a close, the Impact were in the depths of one of those lows. They had suffered four straight shut-out losses, Ignacio Piatti was in the midst of his longest goal drought ever at 5 games without a contribution, and players and coaches were losing their tempers at training.

The World Cup break was still a few weeks away, but couldn’t come soon enough for fans who were tired of watching their team be the whipping boys of the league.

With Albert Elis and the free-scoring Houston Dynamo in town, fans were prepared to be the victims of a firing squad, yet the Impact pulled out a win – and their third clean sheet of the season!

The following match saw the Impact make the long journey to face the other Texas team, FC Dallas, who have generally enjoyed great success against the Bleu-Blanc-Noir. An own goal and a penalty saw the Impact wilt in the Lone Star State’s heat to the tune of 2-0.

There wasn’t much time to sulk over the loss though, as the Impact faced a mid-week game against Orlando City SC before the World Cup break. Orlando were also in tailspin, as they came into the match suffering from 5 straight losses. On a rainy Wednesday night, few anticipated much of a spectacle. However, for a rare time this season, luck shone on the Impact. They received an early penalty that broke Piatti’s dry spell, benefitted from an own goal, and sealed the result with a rare late goal, also from Piatti.

Following the international break, the Impact took to the road again to take on Orlando for the second consecutive match, this time in the Lions’ den. A road game in hot weather rarely spelled means anything good for the Impact. Yet Orlando were still reeling from tallying another loss and were now without a head coach to top it off, following Jason Kreis’ dismissal after the match in Montréal.

Another own goal from OCSC followed by Piatti’s third goal in two matches saw the Impact take a comfortable 2-0 result home, although Orlando is clearly a shadow of the team who took the start of the season by storm.

The team has finally begun to creep toward the playoff line, and fans are finding positives to take from matches once again. Although players have finally begun to play as more of a cohesive unit – for each other, instead of just with each other – two players have stood head and shoulders above their teammates in the recent uptick in form.

Rod Fanni’s cool head and clean play as a defender has seen many opposition attacks snuffed out before goalkeeper Evan Bush need worry. Some are also crediting Fanni’s level-headed presence with the improved decision-making fellow central defender Rudy Camacho has demonstrated.

Samuel Piette has endeared himself to fans beyond being a native Québecois by controlling the midfield and intercepting passes like it’s the easiest job in the world.

Although the outcome of this season is still up in the air, there are diamonds in the rough within the team.

Next up: A true test of whether this recent positive form is an anomaly or a step forward – Sporting KC, unbeaten in 7 matches, visit Stade Saputo on Saturday, June 30th.

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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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The Montréal Impact and the No Good, Very Bad Week

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Results: 1-0 Loss @ Chicago Fire, 0-2 Loss vs Philadelphia Union

Hot on the heels of a soul-cleansing 4-2 victory over the New England Revolution, the Montréal Impact traveled to Chicago as part of a busy week. After the emphatic display, fans looked forward to the next performance eagerly, especially as Chicago and Philadelphia are two Eastern Conference foes against whom it is critical to gain points.

Rémi Garde presented a 4-3-3 line-up featuring the attacking trio who had put 4 past New England, and many were starting to feel hopeful with Rod Fanni and Michael Petrasso returning to health.

Unfortunately, an inability to capitalize on promising chances, a defender’s successful stifling of Nacho Piatti and an unfortunate deflection contributed to what would be an unsuccessful day at the office for Montréal. However, there was little time to dwell on that loss. Philadelphia Union were in town on Saturday, a team who had not scored a road goal in 2018 and had not won in their last 16 road games. It was time to make a statement and begin to make a fortress out of Stade Saputo!

The lineup and formation presented for the match vs the Union were identical to the ones from mid-week – no squad rotation had been implemented. Perhaps this was when alarm bells should have begun to ring, but kickoff an hour later made it all too evident that no amount of rotation would have saved the Impact from the humiliating 90 minutes that were to come.

Individual errors would be to blame for both goals conceded, but it was the collective performance that was most shocking. The majority of Montréal players on the pitch displayed varying combinations of lethargy, sloppiness, apathy, and confusion. The Union had a much more disciplined side, and despite having played midweek themselves, they came out fresher and more prepared to claim their deserved 3 points.

Although Philadelphia’s performance was simply superior in nearly all aspects, their goals highlight some of the most glaring problems on the Impact backline. First, simple marking was forgotten as lone striker Corey Burke was entitled to a free header to put Philly on the scoreboard just before halftime. Jukka Raitala tried to get back to his man before the damage was done, but like most of his team’s efforts last week, it was simply too little, too late.

Near the end of the game, when both teams were down to 10 men, there was some sort of miscommunication on the backline, as Chris Duvall made an ill-advised horizontal pass near the goal line. Raitala allowed that pass to bobble over his foot, and Haris Medunjanin had no problem seizing the loose ball and sealing the Impact’s miserable fate.

This season has been defined by many, including myself, as a transitional year. And that’s perfectly fine. What is most frustrating is that the promising tactical and technical improvements seen in the early games of the season have disappeared from the Impact’s play and the team who began the season on an encouraging note is barely a ghost of a memory. The drastic regression in performances over the past several weeks is deeply concerning. If this is meant to be a “reconstruction” … is the Montreal Impact in the demolition phase right now?

Next up: The Impact will celebrate their 25th anniversary with a Monday game versus the LA Galaxy, who are suffering their own defensive issues, on Monday, May 21st. To create more of a headache, Impact find themselves back to square one on the injury front – there is only one healthy central defender available! They will also have to figure out a solution to fill Daniel Lovitz’s absence as he serves his red card suspension. There are sure to be goals aplenty…

Featured image courtesy: impactmontreal.com

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Ask and you shall receive: Montréal Impact respond to Coach’s request

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, May 5: 4-2 Win

Earlier this week, Montréal Impact head coach Rémi Garde’s interview with the media became a talking point around MLS. When questioned by reporters, Garde stated that his players were not used to “training culture.” More shocking were his comments that Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Dominic Oduro, and Raheem Edwards, in particular, were not giving enough effort in training to compete for a spot on the bench, let alone a starting position.

These words were scrutinized by fans and journalists alike as the Impact prepared for their second home game versus New England Revolution after losing four straight matches in April. Everyone wondered if the coach was transforming the team, or if he was about to lose his locker room.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Image: @impactmontreal

Imagine the surprise of many when the Impact presented their lineup. The familiar comfort of the 4-3-3 returned with two of the players singled-out by Garde in the starting 11: Jackson-Hamel and Edwards featured as striker and right winger, respectively. After being criticized by their manager, the young attackers would have the opportunity to prove their investment and desire to represent Montréal. Nacho Piatti captained the side and returned to his more familiar position on the left wing as he marked his 100th MLS match with the Impact.

The first half saw the Revs largely out-play a low-confidence Impact. On the attacking side, Edwards missed a golden opportunity to finish a cross from left back Daniel Lovitz, and Evan Bush was present to deal with a number of New England corners. To the delight of home fans, Piatti fed a delicious through ball to Jackson-Hamel who had remained just a hair on-side. The striker ran 40 yards alone to beat the keeper and saw his first goal of the season bobble across the line with only seconds left in the half.

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Piatti, Edwards, and Jackson-Hamel hugging for the header. Image: @impactmontreal

As the second half began, worry was in the air. The Impact had held a leading position during the previous two matches (3-1 vs LAFC and 0-1 vs Atlanta United) to start the second half and had folded in on themselves such that the league’s leakiest defense conceded enough goals to lose both games. Would the team try the same failing tactic once again?

The answer would prove to be a resounding “No.” Instead, fans were treated to a sight they had come to know and love over the four seasons Piatti has been with the team: The Nacho Show. Author of the assist to Jackson-Hamel’s first-half goal, Piatti would go on to provide two more assists – another to Jackson-Hamel and one to Edwards as they journeyed down their road to redemption. Finally, the Argentinian magician finished off a brilliant long pass by Samuel Piette to score a goal of his own.

Unfortunately, the Impact’s defensive woes would come back to haunt them again, as they conceded two late goals from set pieces, to finish with a scoreline of 4-2. While it is important to keep in mind that the team cannot continue to ship in multiple goals per game, credit should be heaped upon Piatti for the leadership he showed in creating chances for his teammates who were most in need.

Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Raheem Edwards also deserve their share of recognition for showing up when it mattered and seizing the opportunity they were afforded. Finally, Rémi Garde’s psychological tactics paid off, and perhaps he is instigating a much-needed cultural revolution within the team. Regardless of what challenges are to come in the rest of the season, the Impact deserve to celebrate a much-needed victory.

Up next: The Impact have a quick turn-around, as they make a mid-week trip to face Chicago Fire on Wednesday, May 9th.

Featured image courtesy: @impactmontreal

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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

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