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Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC ratings

Oduro scores late with a header in the box, as Impact advance to Voyageurs Cup Final

Lefèvre makes one of his key tackles against TFC on Wednesday
Lefèvre makes one of his key tackles against TFC on Wednesday
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Montréal Impact managed to do just enough on Wednesday night, winning their semifinal two-legged affair on away goals, or as I like to call it, an “Impact Special.”

Down 3-1 late in the second half, Oduro, one of the Impact’s best players in the air (not), climbed the ladder (sort of) to beat a TFC defender and head home the winning goal (kind of).

To say it was a bit of a bizarre game would be an understatement. The Impact’s first goal was scored off of a set piece. That’s right, you heard me correctly, a SET PIECE. And it wasn’t just a lucky break, either. This actually looked like something they’ve been practicing.

Tissot placed his corner kick directly on the head of the marauding Eric Miller at the near post, who then, miraculously I’d say, headed it brilliantly onto the chest of Calum Mallace.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get much better than that, Mallace calmly chested it down to his boot before shooting at directly at, believe it or not, the goal (I was looking over the bar for the ball but apparently it never went there). Cooper finished off the stellar move with a simple deflection into the net, and then the entire Impact team went ahead and congratulated the wrong player for the goal, Mallace, probably because they were too confused about what had just happened.

In the second half, TFC scored two goals while one of our players, Maxim Tissot, was recovering from what looked like a horrific head injury. I understand that rules stipulate that the game must go on when a player’s injury lands him beyond the touchline, but c’mon, there needs to be a little gray area here. When a player lands awkwardly and hits his head on some kind of metal barrier, resulting in him staying motionless, face down in the grass for over a minute, isn’t this, maybe, a special situation garnering special attention?

Either way, TFC took full advantage of the injury, scoring twice. IMFC could have defended better, specifically on the first goal where Alexander lost the man he was marking, Altidore, who ran behind the defense to create the goal.

The second goal is just one of those plays where your defense is a step too slow on every pass. It was a thing of beauty, and I give TFC props for that.

All their hard work while Tissot was recovering from getting maimed was wasted, however, when Miller, who had already made one of the nicest headers in Montréal Impact history (joking, I think?), delivered a perfect cross into the box for the shifty Oduro, who managed to outduel Perquis in the box and head home the Impact’s second goal.

Two goals on plays we never do properly, set pieces and headers, and there you have it, another classic Amway/CCL comeback result for the Montréal Impact.

Coach: Frank Klopas – 6/10

Klopas fielded as close to the lineup that I would have liked, and actually I think he went above and beyond my expectations, resting even more players than I would have imagined he would. Starting both Tissot and Miller was a bit risky, but they survived, and Cooper was excellent in the short time he spent on the pitch. I’m still dying to see how the team can defend in a 4-4-2, because I’m convinced they will be fine, but apparently Klopas is still too scared to try it for a full game. It’s three games in a row now that the 4-4-2 has paid dividends, so I think Klopas is just fighting himself at this point.

K: Eric Kronberg – 6/10

I thought that Kronberg was pretty good in nets, despite the three goals conceded. He did well to challenge for balls in the air, and even one that he missed, he still did enough to throw off the would-be TFC header. Was a bit weak in his ball distribution, and seems to be much more efficient when he makes short passes and throws. Also made a big save in the first half that was goal-bound.

CB: Laurent Ciman – 7/10

Maybe wasn’t at his best on Wednesday, having played a little too loose, especially on the first TFC goal, where he went for an ill-advised tackle that he missed badly. Still, he made several key tackles in dangerous areas, and was extremely clutch at the end of the game, making all the right decisions with and without the ball as TFC desperately tried to mount an attack.

CB: Wandrille Lefèvre – 8/10

Another excellent start for the upstart Frenchman. Made big play after big play in the highly contested second half, rarely mistiming his tackles. Saved his teammates on a few occasions by displaying a lot of calm in the box, keeping his position smartly by not over-committing on tackles.

RB: Eric Miller – 7/10

Despite being a bit overmatched at times against the shifty Giovinco, Miller was once again pretty solid for the Impact. He looks to be gaining confidence by the game, especially offensively, where he was extremely implicated. Drew assists on both Impact goals, heading on beautifully to Mallace on the first, and made a good cross into the box on the second that Oduro headed home. Still a little shaky defensively, specifically in the box where he missed a clearance that led to a point blank chance in the first half, but he’s getting there.

LB: Maxim Tissot 5.5/10

Kind of an up and down game for Tissot. It seemed that for every good pass he made, he delivered a wayward one, like Miller, struggled with defensive coverage on the box, specifically of the aerial variety. Was able to use his speed to recover defensively effectively, but needs to work on timing up headers better. Like Miller he did better on the offensive side of the pitch, performing a number of above average corners and free kicks, one of which resulted in a goal.

DM: Patrice Bernier 6/10

I thought that Bernier was decent against TFC, despite taking on some pretty talented midfielders. I will admit that he was lucky to have gotten away with a second booking, however. Despite the fouls, I thought he looked composed enough on the ball, rarely losing it cheaply under duress. Also showed some good aggressive play to win balls back, though his work rate seemed to tail off as the second half wore on.

DM: Calum Mallace – 6.5/10

Mallace didn’t see a lot of the ball in the midfield with Bradley and Giovinco helping TFC win the possession battle, but he did well defensively, especially in the box where he played well positionally. Offensively he could have moved the ball a little quicker to the playmakers on the pitch. Was excellent on the first Impact goal, chesting down coolly before rifling in a hard low shot on goal.

LM: Dilly Duka 7.5/10

Watching Duka play, it always appears as though he looks more comfortable as a central midfielder rather than a wide one. Was very active in the first half, creating a number of chances for his teammates and himself. Had good chemistry with Cooper, who unfortunately went out with an injury early on. Was subbed out at the 63rd minute but put in an above average shift.

CAM: Eric Alexander – 5.5/10

CAM is not really a position I find Alexander thrives in. His strengths seem to lie in the buildup of play in the defensive half, and less in the final third. As the designated playmaker, it seems a bit too overwhelming for him, and he’s the type of player that needs more touches to be effective. Moved to the wing when Piatti came on for Mallace, and immediately seemed more comfortable there, making neat one-two passes with Miller and MacInernry on the right side.

RM: Dominic Oduro – 8/10

Oduro is quickly becoming one of the more indispensable players on the team. Displayed excellent work rate throughout, and continues to impress with awareness and passing skills on the pitch. Say what you want about TFC’s defending on his goal, but he does really well to track the Miller cross and time his jump expertly.

Striker: Kenny Cooper 8/10

I couldn’t be much more impressed by what I saw from Cooper on Wednesday night. In 30 or so minutes he provided everything you want to see from a solo striker. He held up the ball well, consistently made runs into open space, and got into good positions to receive and put balls on target. The fact that he got injured, potentially long-term, is pretty tragic, because it was one of the better performances I’ve seen from an Impact striker all year long.

Subs: MacInerny, Piatti, Romero

MacInernry came on for Cooper in the 32nd minute, and took awhile to get warmed up, after coming off the bench cold. Did good work once he got going however, making a couple of really nice feeds down the wings to Duka and Oduro that created scoring opportunities. In the second half this seemed to pay off for him, as the usually reluctant Piatti found him twice in open space, once in the box even. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, as the Impact really need to get more out of Piatti as a creative ball distributor. I wasn’t thoroughly impressed with Romero, especially at the end of the game where he squandered possession of the ball in the offensive third that gave TFC unnecessary and avoidable counter attacks.

Final Thoughts

All in all, there was more good than bad in this game from the Impact, though it’s hard to swallow the loss of Cooper, who looked like a real game-changer up front for the Impact.

The biggest bright spot from the game was undoubtedly the set-piece goal scored in the first half. It’s one thing to execute set plays in practice; to actually score on one in a game is something else altogether. The Impact’s biggest problem offensively has been their inability to score in multiple ways, so hopefully this will give them some more confidence in attack. You can say all you want about TFC switching off in the box, but Miller’s head-on at the near post to Mallace would have been extremely hard to defend for any team.

As mentioned before and in recent articles, the 4-4-2 seemed to garner them another big result, and I think the key is not necessarily that the 4-4-2 is a better formation, but that it’s a better formation for MacInerny and Oduro to be effective.

Cooper is a much better fit than either of the aforementioned strikers in a 4-2-3-1 because of his size and ability to hold up play in and around the box. MacInerny and Oduro lack these essential qualities, and neither have that innate ability to make perfect well-timed runs behind the defense—like Di Vaio did—to really scare the opposition.

Now that Cooper is out, it appears like it will be even more vital for the Impact to start employing the 4-4-2 regularly in games, and maybe more specifically, in practice.