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Montréal Impact versus Toronto FC -- Post Game Review

The Montréal Impact came up short on Wednesday, falling to rivals TFC by a score of 3-1.

Soumare takes down Giovinco in the box in IMFC 3-1 loss on Wednesday.
Soumare takes down Giovinco in the box in IMFC 3-1 loss on Wednesday.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, a little piece of me dies every time the Impact loses. It’s ridiculous, I know, because I don’t actually believe they will win every game, but it is what it is.

TFC were the better team on Wednesday. It’s not even up for debate, and it wasn’t that close, either. Montréal actually didn’t have that bad a game, it was just that Toronto played that much better. So at the end of the day, you got to give credit when credit’s due.

Money talked, stars walked the walk

The game came down to the best players on the pitch. TFC’s threesome of Bradley, Giovinco and Altidore were all excellent or at least very good, and IMFC’s trio of Piatti, Ciman and Romero were just so-so overall. When push came to shove, Toronto’s stars came through in the clutch, while Montreal’s were just a little bit off.

I watched the TSN broadcast, and a lot was said about how the Montreal midfield was the cause of all the team’s problems. Woah, there.  When a player (Bradley) makes an inch perfect pass from 40 yards out onto a striker’s (Altidore) chest, who then lays it down perfectly to his foot before slotting it home, it’s less about the midfielders giving Bradley too much space, and more about him and Altidore being excellent. Not to mention the fact that Soumare is at least as much to blame for barely putting up a challenge on Altidore’s shot on target. But even there, it’s just a really well taken shot.

Wanted: Midfielder who likes defending

Reo-Coker and Donadel actually didn’t play that poorly. The issue is that they play a similar style, which is more of and offensive version of a DM. Basically they are straight-up, central midfielders. Paired together, they don’t add much to the equation, defensively-speaking. In a nutshell, Klopas and Co. were probably asking too much of them then, to shut down all-star talents like Giovinco and Bradley. Of the five midfielders that were on the pitch last night, Only Romero really enjoys getting after it defensively. That’s simply not enough defensive pressure against a talented attack like TFC.

What the team really lacks the most is a defense-first midfielder. At the moment, the closest thing they have is Calum Mallace, and the depth sort of ends there.  As much I’d like to see the team find a real No. 10, maybe finding a real No. 6 should be the first order of business.

Missed opportunities

I was saying to a friend during last week’s win that not being clinical enough on their scoring chances and counterattacks would eventually come back to haunt them against a good team, and that is exactly what happened versus TFC.

After TFC tied the match 1-1, IMFC had two clear-cut chances to go back ahead. The first was through McInerney, who flubbed what looked like a fairly easy tap-in, and the second from Reo-Coker, who easily could have gone for goal, but instead tried to pass to Romero who was covered by two defenders. Even early in the second half, their best player, Piatti, had an excellent chance in space to do something special, but got off a very weak shot.

In a game where the opponent is dominating possession, it’s so important to take advantage of the counterattacks, to be more clinical.  They got away with it against a less dynamic Orlando City squad, but paid dearly for it versus TFC.

How they fared

Ambroise Oyongo is making the Impact’s trade with NYRB look better by the game. His goal was excellently taken, and he defended admirably all night long. Besides Ciman, he’s as a sure-fire a starter as there is, not just on defense, but also on the team as a whole.

Baky Soumare is quickly becoming this year’s Felipe for me. At least Felipe had an excuse for sucking; he was playing a position (DM) that he clearly was doomed to fail at. Soumare has no such excuse. He just seems too slow and clumsy to be an effective CB. What’s more, he constantly loses possession of the ball needlessly, either by booting it away to no one, or attempting (failing) to dribble it out of harm’s way. After watching both Lefèvre and Soumare play a number of games this year, I can’t think of one thing the Mali-native does better than his counterpart.

Elsewhere, I think McInerney is due for a game on the bench. It’s almost better for him to play with a chip on his shoulder, and he might be getting too comfortable again.  With Oduro back, there’s really no reason for Jack Mac to be the unquestioned No. 1. He’s not that much (if at all) better than Oduro. Time for some rotation there, methinks.

The loss to TFC really put into perspective what happens when a star-laden team plays at their best. In short, they’re nearly unbeatable.  You can blame particular players all you want for the loss, but when push comes to shove, the cream usually ends up rising to the top.  If IMFC want to beat the best, they’ll definitely need to add some quality pieces in July.