The Impact came into Dallas on the highest of highs following their first ever win. Unfortunately, they head to DC on the lowest of lows as they lost in the most heartbreaking of ways by giving up two late goals. The rollercoaster expansion season continues as the team have and will continue to face every possible good and bad situation as they continue to grow as a team.
Donovan Ricketts had another stellar game. Despite a couple trademark butterfinger juggling acts, the number one often bailed out his squad with some spectacular saves. He can't be faulted on the two allowed goals. The game tying goal, off a set play, came from a rebound where he had already stretched himself out on the initial save attempt. The game winner came off a defensive breakdown on a last minute throw in.
Overall, the defense played very well. Marsch had them playing a little bit of a higher line than usual and although they had some breakdowns, they were very efficient in limiting Dallas' chances and keeping Brek Shea/Blas Perez quiet. Now, before you crucify me by saying "Hey, they were the 2 goal scorers!!", keep reading and I'll give you my take on what happened. Tyson Wahl, however, deserves a special mention as he was potentially the hardest working man on the field. Constantly challenged, he was not intimidated at all and played hard and physical all game.
More after the jump
Bernardo Corradi also gets a mention here simply because he dedicated his game and his PK goal to Piermario Morosini, his friend who passed away earlier in the day while on a field in Italy. He did also manage to put in a strong effort with his ball control and passing.
The entire midfield had a mixed review performance. When taking a closer look, Felipe and Collen Warner can thank Lamar Neagle and Justin Mapp having below average games. Without any threat being created on the wings, it is extremely difficult for your central midfielders to create any space for themselves or produce any type of regular offensive flow.
Neagle didn't necessarily hurt his team but he always seemed half a step behind. He didn't use his size effectively during his runs and his timing was off. Mapp's worst enemy may have been the wind. He was not providing the crosses for which he is known nor was he cutting through the midfield.
Offensively, Captain Davy Arnaud's return was a successful one. He showed that he hates being on the bench by being a great example of a two-way midfielder. Playing in his favored central mid/attacking role, he attempted to create many chances but, unfortunately, they were all spoiled by a lack of team speed. His bright spot during the game was earning his team's questionable penalty, which Corradi was able to convert.
This loss can be chalked up to the following reasons: Lack of speed, poor personnel choice, set piece defence and bad substitution timing. Let me explain.
Sanna Nyassi is the burner, Bernardo Corradi is the point man and distributor. They complement each other very well. With Arnaud taking Nyassi's place, the Impact lost all speed on the offensive side of the ball erasing any attempts to create openings in the last third of the field. No space means no flow, no flow means no openings and guess what... no openings means no goals. Since Nyassi wasn't able to start, perhaps giving Wenger a chance to start would have provided the necessary speed to offset the Gambian's loss.
Jesse Marsch cannot play a 4-5-1 (or 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 depending on various opinions) with Corradi as your only true forward.
With the Montreal Impact leading 1-0, Marsch tried to finish off FC Dallas and get the insurance goal by bringing in Wenger and Nyassi with about 20 minutes remaining. Thanks to the lack of creativity coming out of the midfield, they were unable to truly contribute. No one can blame him for that. However, with the game still tied with 5 minutes remaining, bringing on another offensive piece is extremely questionable. Hindsight is always 20/20 but I'd rather see a defensive reinforcement jump on the field to protect the draw or no substitution at all.
Finally, as the case has been all season, the Impact continue to struggle on set piece defense. Just like the offense that needs time to create a rhythm or a team that needs time to gel, set piece defense is something that is a lengthy process to master. It's coming. It's hurting the team right now. The only hope is that Marsch will make this a practice focal point in the near future.
It's a heart breaking loss. Losing the game in the last minutes of the game is very tough to swallow.
It's also a great opportunity for this young team to learn from and adapt for the future. I've often mentioned that this team will face a lot of adversity. The leadership of this team will need to step up, ignore all distractions and keep this group focused.
I do have to give Jesse Marsch and the Impact credit. As an expansion team playing on the road, you'd expect a slow pace, not very attacking, ultra defensive style game but that is not the kind of game they offer. Rather than "parking the bus" against their opponents, the Impact try their best to bring an offensive minded display and test the defense as much as possible. It's something that you rarely see but should pay off for them later in the season.
This was only game seven of a LONG season and it the rollercoaster will only continue its ups and downs. Fans need to remember that this is an expansion team with a rookie coach. Everyone deserves their chance. The Impact are playing a lot of games in a short span. After the DC game, the Impact will have 10 days off. This will be a perfect time to slow down, get in 7-8 good, strong practices and get the ship right for the rest of the season.
Stay positive and until next time,