Tag Archives: Remi Garde

Montréal Impact Fall Short In a Big Match (Yet Again)

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

Saturday, September 29: 5-0 Loss

Being a fan of the Montréal Impact is like riding a roller coaster. The team can send supporters to the highest peaks of joy and excitement, as evidenced during their 2016 playoff run, but they can also cause fans to plummet into the pits of despair and disappointment, such as with last night’s non-performance against DC United.

The match was billed as “the match of the season” by many, and it was more than just a six-point match with enormous weight in the playoff race. It was an opportunity for the Impact to rise to the occasion and obtain a result in a game of crucial importance.

The humiliating 5-0 scoreline — the worst loss in Montréal’s MLS existence — indicates that once again, the Impact failed to seize their chance to put a nail in DC’s playoff coffin. Instead, the Bleu-Blanc-Noir have likely dug their own grave. Over and over, the defense was carved open like a knife through hot butter, while the visiting offense could only put 4 of their 25(!) shots on target.

As the DC goals racked up, the Impact players looked more defeated and downright disinterested in the match. Coach Rémi Garde seemed to know the match was lost, as team talisman Ignacio Piatti — whose night was truly disastrous — was substituted off for youngster Mathieu Choinière. At the end, many viewers of the match felt like they had lost two hours of their lives that they’d never get back.

To make matters more disturbing, this is not the first time in Impact history – or this season – that the Montréalais have failed to “show up” for an important match. We can recently look back to the 3-1 defeat to bitter rivals Toronto FC in late August, where the tactics were also somewhat to blame. I am inclined to also cite the 1-0 loss to a ten-man LA Galaxy back in May, which was the Impact’s first sell-out of the season and a great occasion to win over new fans.

It would be cruel to ignore the tremendous improvements that the Bleu-Blanc-Noir have experienced under Garde and his coaching staff. Piatti has become more generous with the ball, Evan Bush has set a personal record with 117 saves this season and, generally speaking, the defense is significantly more organized than in previous seasons.

It would be equally unfair to forget that the Impact began the season in a bind, with the early loss of defender Zakaria Diallo, meaning they used an international spot and a hefty portion of the salary budget for his substitute Rod Fanni. As well, interesting and dynamic as he has been, Quincy Amarikwa was a last-minute addition to the squad after French striker Jimmy Briand backed out at the last second.

Regardless of the changes in personnel, the team has remained in the playoff picture for many weeks, yet this most recent disastrous performance shows that the spectre of the big-game mentality continues to haunt the Impact.

Is this problem something a manager can take charge of, or does it require the more specialized touch of a sports psychologist? As different managers have come and gone, and the Impact have continued to let huge results slip from their grasp, the answer seems to lie beyond the man at the helm of the ship.

With their playoff fate now well and truly out of their hands, it is time to see what mettle the Impact have within to end their season, starting when they host Columbus Crew next Sunday.

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The rivalry match that wasn’t for IMFC

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

Saturday, August 25: 3-1 Loss

At long last, Rivalry Week was upon us. This is a time Montréal Impact fans and Toronto FC fans alike look to on the calendar upon its release, because the feeling is fierce. Beyond the two clubs, beyond sport as a whole, a cultural rivalry between Montréal and Toronto has simmered for countless years. To say that rivalry matches are special ones is an enormous understatement.

As Toronto spent a large part of the season on their heels, with the Impact the higher-placed team in the Eastern Conference, fans looked toward the road match with particular delight. BMO Field is notably hostile to Montréal, with the Impact having won there only twice, but what better time was there to put a nail in the coffin of a rival’s playoff hopes?

On Saturday, Rémi Garde presented his lineup an hour before the match, and it was a baffling one. Ignacio Piatti was placed as the central striker, with Saphir Taïder shifting from central midfield to the left wing of the typical 4-3-3. I stared stupefied at such a lineup wondering if Garde was a genius or a madman. Our two Designated Players were moved out of position, and the weakened midfield core would have a Herculean task ahead of them to try and dictate play.

The fact that the lineup did not work was evident from the start. TFC’s 4-4-2 diamond populated the midfield, and it was too much for Piette, Azira and Krolicki to gain any control over play. The Impact were clearly out-of-sync, and lingered too long in making crucial decisions which led to turnovers. Their lethargic start – yet another one! – was punished by 3 TFC goals within 30 minutes of play. It was as though any play a Bleu-Blanc-Noir player attempted was the wrong one.

Shortly after the home team took a 3-0 lead, Alejandro Silva scored a wonderful counterattack goal to light a glimmer of hope that Montréal could find a way back into the match. The end of the first half would see the Impact hit the woodwork on a free kick, and have two goals disallowed for offside.

Quincy Amarikwa came on for the thoroughly overwhelmed Ken Krolicki at the start of the second half, allowing Taïder to move into a more effective role, and the Impact laid siege to the Toronto half of the field for the final 45 minutes. However, no Impact player was able to make the difference. A succession of corner kicks went unclaimed, and for the goals that needed to be scored, disturbingly few balls entered the 18-yard box, as players elected to dither around the edges until they turned over possession.

In the wake of the defeat, blame is being thrown around all over the place. Piatti had a truly disastrous evening, one of his worst in recent memory – how did he remain out there for 90 minutes? The Impact players were incredibly slow and made poor decision after poor decision – what was going through their heads? Once again, the Impact’s lack of a proper striker was glaringly obvious – how did the ball get dropped on such a crucial role to fill during the transfer window?

This match was of enormous importance, both for team pride and in the playoff race – why did Garde choose such a match to experiment with his lineup? We likely won’t get answers to many of these questions, certainly none that will satisfy Impact fans.

The Impact’s fate is essentially out of their hands now, even though they are 4 points clear of the playoff line. The teams chasing them all have at least two games in hand, as do fifth-placed Philadelphia. The Impact now have to contend with a venerable New York Red Bulls side next Saturday, who will have even less mercy for an ill-prepared team with a shaky mentality.

Featured image: @torontofc

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Montreal Impact stand strong in a draw at Portland Timbers

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, July 21: 2-2 Draw

The whirlwind that the month of July has been is nearing its end for the Montreal Impact. The team soldiered on with their duties to the faraway land of Portland to have their yearly battle with the Timbers. Being that the Timbers entered the match on a 13-game hot streak and are undefeated at home this season, most were of the opinion that the Impact would be very happy to escape the Rose City with a point.

Suffice it to say, the 90 minutes that played out in Portland were wild. Despite the glut of matches and how much fatigue must be creeping up on players, Rémi Garde fielded his strongest lineup possible, with the exception of Shamit Shome replacing Ken Krolicki in midfield.

You can often tell what kind of a match the Impact are going to have based on what kind of match their undisputed best player is having. If Ignacio Piatti is up for it, then the team are all but guaranteed to score goals. However, another significant offensive threat has awakened in the form of Alejandro Silva who has taken to the right wing like a fish to water.

In the 23rd minute, Silva intercepted a poor pass and dusted himself off after a clumsy collision with a Timbers man, dribbled deftly into the box and served up the assist on a silver platter for Saphir Taïder’s fourth goal in as many matches. Piatti, Silva and Taïder have a combined 10 goals and 10 assists in the past 7 matches (all competitions).

Although Portland would come back to equalize, directly from the kickoff that followed, Matteo Mancosu also found the back of the net for a second time this season. Piatti played a perfectly weighted long ball to him, allowing the Italian to do what Italian strikers do best – peel off the shoulder of his defenders to score a goal that undoubtedly brought him great relief.

While neither of the Impact’s strikers has had much success filling the net this season, the burden of creating and scoring goals is no longer solely on Piatti’s shoulders. In seasons past, teams could simply smother the Argentinian maestro, because he was at the heart and soul of the team’s attack. With his teammates finding their form, it is now dangerous to overcommit bodies to Piatti, as Silva is proving to be a deft dribbler and Taïder is developing a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

The Impact’s first draw of the season would not have happened had it not been for one player. For as much of a hero as he has been this season, the Impact would have won this match had it not been for Evan Bush’s two howlers. Twice, Bush ineffectively palmed shots into positions for Samuel Armenteros and Diego Valeri to pounce on his errors.

Bush would go on to make seven saves, to his credit. Given the assault he has faced in net this season, most are willing to excuse the ‘keeper’s lapses so long as he returns to his 2018 form! That will be all the more important to see out the month, as it became clear toward the end of the match that outfield players are beginning to feel the fatigue of a very condensed schedule.

The Impact remain on the West Coast to play the second leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final at BC Place tonight. They take a 1-0 advantage into that match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Impact return him for their last match of the month on Saturday, July 28th, as Atlanta United will be in town to undoubtedly test the team’s defensive resolve.

Featured image: @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.

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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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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

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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

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