While it wasn't the most memorable of matches, it was a great opportunity for many players to get some good playing time against real competition.
The Impact controlled most of the game, had some great communication and were able to take advantage of their chances. New York simply didn't seem ready to play. They were struggling with communication all day and their defensive line was, to sum it up in one word, awful.
Everyone had a good game for the home side. The one recurring theme was late game fatigue from lack of playing time. Here are some notes and quotes about some of the better performing players:
Valentin played a strong game. Despite not having featured in the 18 man roster for the first 4 games and not having played in a real game for a while, he was able to play the full 90 minutes while keeping things simple, making good decisions with the ball and locking down the right side of the field.
On a couple of occasions, he seemed to want to do too much at once but that is linked to the pressure to perform to impress the coaching staff (After a bad pass that went to the opponents feet, he looked up at the heavens in disbelief with himself). He is frustrated with not having featured with the first team yet but his performance can only be considered as positive.
Coach Eullafroy stated after the game that he was very pleased with Zarek's performance. His leadership and communication were a huge asset to help keep the younger players calm and focused. He also mentioned that, like any player, Zarek would like to have more minutes but has been patient and positive within the team while he waits for his number to be called.
A starter under Jesse Marsch, Warner has not yet seen much action since Coach Marco moved Captain Davy Arnaud to central midfield. Collen played a full 90 and was a general on the field. For comparison's sake, he played the same role that Patrice Bernier usually has.
Never out of place, he won almost every ball and was able to launch the counterattack, often through Zakaria Messoudi. He is a first team player and deserves an opportunity to play.
With a goal and an assist, the former first overall pick was a threat all day and bullied a poor Red Bulls defensive line. His accuracy wasn't on point as he would like but that is only normal with limited playing time.
Fatigue was obvious in the final 20 minutes but he dug deep and continued to create chances. He definitely deserves to have his number called more often. He is young and supremely talented.
Not much to say about Bush in this game. He was his usual great self, ensuring great communication with his back line, making sure everyone was in place and made acrobatic save after acrobatic save.
Evan has a great vision of the game and although the Red Bulls didn't get many chances, the shots fired in his direction were very dangerous and kept the backup keeper on his toes. This game was a great tune-up for him as he will be the starting keeper for the Canadian Championship game against TFC in April.
The first round pick was very impressive today. Smith did not look out of place, keeping it simple and showing off his blazing speed on a few occasions. He had great ball control and really showed off everything that made him so attractive to the front office during their scouting. He even managed a goal in the final 10 minutes of the game, showing great focus and endurance.
Stuck in a logjam in the midfield depth chart, Coach Marco should consider using Smith and Sanna ‘Supersub' Nyassi late in games against tired defenses. Add in an Andrew Wenger to pair up with Marco Di Vaio and the Impact would give the opposing defense migraines.
Coach Eullafroy was very pleased with the youngster's performance. He noted that despite having to improve on the defensive side of the ball, Smith is a fantastic player with the ball at his feet and his able to push forward with ease.
Messoudi was, without a doubt, the player of the game. He showed great decision making, ball control while having numerous great runs and completing some difficult passes. He showed that he is ready for the next level and definitely deserves some minutes THIS SEASON. Zakaria could be an interesting option off the bench and a spot starter but one thing is clear, he will contribute to this team's success in the near future.
After the game, Messoudi mentioned that he and the rest of the academy players were inspired by teammate Karl Ouimette's first MLS start the day before. It gives them hope and determination to keep working harder knowing that their efforts will pay off someday soon.
The Montreal Impact ended the weekend in first place in both the MLS and the Reserve League. The season is still young, there is a lot of Soccer left and the boys in blue now have a huge target on their backs as the rest of the league want to prove that they can beat the top dogs.
MLS: Saturday, March 30th at 8:30 pm at Sporting Kansas City
Reserve League: Tuesday, June 4th at 1:30 pm at Centre Claude-Robillard vs FC Dallas