Tag Archives: Samuel Piette

Midterm Report Card: Montréal Impact

Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @ejp_nb

As many of you may not know, I’m a teacher by day. Here in the Great White North, we have reached the end of the school year, so it’s time to hand out report cards to the kids before I can kick back and spend my summer at Stade Saputo.

The spirit of the season has inspired me to give a report card to the team at this halfway point in the the season. In lieu of giving individual grades, players will be divided into 3 categories: Exceeding Expectations, Making the Grade, More Effort Required. Players who have featured in fewer than 5 matches/500 minutes will be exempt from grading as there is an insufficient body of work to assess due to excessive absence. (#teachertalk).

Exceeding Expectations

Samuel Piette — I doubt the Bulldog from Repentigny expected to become the de facto captain for the Impact in Nacho Piatti’s extended absence. However, he has represented everything a team captain should embody: strong work ethic, leaving it all on the pitch, keeping a cool head, and being a shining ambassador for the club.

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1/3 played. So far so good, but hungry for more.

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Zakaria Diallo — The central defender had spent the entirety of the 2018 season sidelined by a torn ACL, so expectations for him may have been as simple as “stay healthy.” He has done just that and his aerial prowess has proven crucial as the Impact defend set pieces.

Omar Browne — This shock signing screamed of desperation as Piatti disappeared from the lineup. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, many wondered if he was even worth the International Spot the Impact had to buy to sign Browne. We only had a very small sample size to base his performances on before coming to the team, but his contributions, especially in a sterile offense, have been a breath of fresh air.

Shamit Shome — What a surprise Shome’s rise to Starting XI status has been this season! Signed as a 2017 second-round Superdraft pick, Shome had largely been ignored by 2 Impact coaches until April. The injury-ravaged squad allowed him a series of starts, which the central midfield seized with aplomb. His vision for a pass makes up for a lack of pure technique.

Zachary Brault-Guillard — Get out your chequebook, Joey Saputo! The Lyon loanee is a modern fullback in every sense of the word. Fast, young, hungry, keen to contribute to the attacking phase of play, ZBG has been a more than adequate backup to Sagna, from whom he is undoubtedly learning a great deal.

Making the Grade

Saphir Taïder — The Algerian DP can be the best player on the pitch, or he can be a hindrance to the team. Taïder lacks the consistency he played with last season, and continued to play through an injury for several weeks. The team’s final match before the Gold Cup break, a 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders, where he scored both goals, was probably Taïder’s best performance of the season. Here’s hoping the break allows him the rest and recovery to return to his best self.

Victor Cabrera — Cabrera has made a regular return to the starting XI this season alongside Diallo. He is still known for the risky tackles. When they pay off, he looks like an All-Star player. When they don’t, his teammates are left in hot water. Maybe it’s a different pairing, maybe it’s just luck, but Cabrera has acquitted himself admirably thus far.

Micheal Azira — Having been bumped from the starting XI by Shome’s more offensive qualities, Azira has proven to be a serviceable, if unremarkable, substitute/rotation player.

Orji Okwonkwo — It remains to be seen if Okwonkwo is best suited to a winger or a central striker role, as the team’s needs have kept him on the wings for the beginning of the season. Okwonkwo’s technique and speed have impressed so far, but he’s been sidelined a few times by injury, and we’d like to see him stay healthy.

Bacary Sagna — What the veteran lacks in stamina, he makes up for with cool decision making. Having had a revolving door of partners on the right side of the pitch, Sagna has done his best to develop chemistry with whoever he’s paired with. However, he’s been a victim of the travel-heavy start to the condensed season and is out injured.

Jukka Raitala — The Finnish army knife continues to slot in wherever needed. Rarely looking uncomfortable, Raitala does not make showy tackles when simpler work does the trick.

Evan Bush — Bush stood on his head last season, setting a team record for saves, and a personal record for shutouts. He hasn’t been as rock-steady so far, but is still proving his worth as a veteran in the squad.

Struggling with their Tasks††

Harry Novillo — I don’t think much needs to be said here. Novillo was signed on Rémi Garde’s promise that, although he has much ability, his attitude and off-pitch behaviour were what had led Novillo to the Malaysian second division — but he’s changed! Turns out that might not be the case … Frequently injured or ill, Novillo has had little chance to showcase his abilities, and Garde himself has said the player still needs to demonstrate more professionalism.

Maxi Urruti — It seems cruel to classify Urruti as a player who isn’t doing enough. He runs his guts out without fail every match. However, he’s a striker with only one goal this season (a penalty), and who still looks a bit lost in the box. After 2 seasons of toothless strikers, Impact fans are antsy for something more clinical.

Daniel Lovitz — Nicknamed “Marcelovitz” last season, Daniel Lovitz earned his first USMNT call-up in the January camp. Unfortunately, he returned a shadow of the overlapping, attack-minded player we saw previously. He has played a far more conservative game thus far, and seems to have had the confidence drained out of him.

As I always tell concerned parents at our conferences, this is just a progress report, not a definitive grading! There is still plenty of time for the players who have disappointed so far to improve. Here’s hoping that they rise to the challenge!

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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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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