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Montréal Impact versus Philadelphia Union -- Post Game Review

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The Montréal Impact play well, but can't quite get over the hump, in a 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

Dilly Duka fights for the ball in IMFC's scrappy draw with the Union on Saturday.
Dilly Duka fights for the ball in IMFC's scrappy draw with the Union on Saturday.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Montréal Impact came away with a 2-2 draw against the Philadelphia Union Saturday night, in what was a wet and fairly wild affair. The game ended 10 vs 10 after two red cards were handed out in the span of 10 minutes in the second half. Despite the rain, which made the game almost unwatchable on TV at times, the game was played with a fair amount of quality, with neither team wasting a great deal of possession.

Road revival

Despite the draw, it was one of the better performances of the year away from home for IMFC, on both sides of the pitch. Offensively they kept good possession of the ball, while the defense stayed solid and compact for the most part.

Victor Cabrera made his MLS debut at centerback, and was impressive for the most part, especially in the second half I found.  He made numerous header clearances when the team went down a man, and showed a lot of mobility and competitiveness in the box. For a player that is not very tall, he works very hard to get to balls in the air.

Despite missing a sitter late in the contest, Nacho Piatti played probably his best road game of the year. He scored a near Golazo to tie the game in the first half, and was a much more effective ball distributor than usual.  It was also great to see Jack McInerney come on and score against his old club, a man down no less.

I think of all the players on the squad, Klopas understands how to deal with Jack Mac the best. He’s a player that needs to be motivated, that needs a chip on his shoulder to raise his game to another level.  When he came on the pitch in the 60th minute, you could see right away that he was playing with a little extra impetus, and the goal he scored was a really testament to that sort of effort.

Watching Oduro play alone up front, you can understand Klopas’ dilemma: as much as it would be beneficial to rotate McInerney in and out of the lineup to keep him humble and hungry, there really aren’t any better options up top at the moment. In a way, Klopas wasted 60 minutes of the game with a player who didn’t look comfortable up front, just to get McInerney stirred up enough to prove his worth.

Whatever works I guess!

Lineup changes

There was a good amount of rotation in the squad, with Bernier, Mallace, Oduro and Duka also making starts, with varying results.  Bernier and Mallace made for a solid pairing in midfield, with the former having a pretty decent game before getting sent off for his second yellow card offence. Duka perhaps didn’t contribute a whole lot offensively, but I thought he put in a good shift energy-wise.

Oduro was disappointing, but again, I think it was a case of a player playing out of position.  Despite the fact that he has played as a lone striker in his career (including this year), I don’t think it’s a spot that suits him well. An out-and-out striker needs a certain amount of quality with his back to goal, and Oduro struggled in that respect against Philadelphia. He consistently failed to make good layoff passes to his teammates, and as a result never really created good chemistry with Piatti and Co. up front.

Reality check

I’ve been a little irritated of late with the attitude of certain members of the media in regards to IMFC’s away performances. In short, I think a little bit of perspective is needed here. At the end of the day, they have the power to influence fan support, second only maybe to the team itself.

The Impact road record is bad, no doubt, but if you look around the league you’ll find equally bad road records. Along with the Impact, there are currently nine teams out of twenty who have 1 road win or less, and only 2 teams that have more than 4.  The L.A. Galaxy is the defending MLS champion. Guess how many road wins they have this year in 10 matches? ZERO. Last I checked, there wasn’t anyone in Los Angeles losing his or her mind over that abysmal stat.

And then there is this usage of carry-over stats from last year that I find entirely depressing and also sort of useless as an analysis tool.  I’m referring, of course, to such stats as road wins and goals scored off of set pieces. Everything I hear on the radio is in relation to, or compounded with, last year’s miserable Montréal Impact season. Enough already.

This is a very different team, with a different vibe, and it’s time to wipe the slate clean, once and for all.  I’m tired of hearing about when the next shoe will drop, how half-empty the glass is, and that if we can’t beat a particular team on the road we’re doomed. It’s time to relax and take things one game at a time.

It’s time to be more professional!

Parity

There’s also this perceived notion that there are horrible teams in the East (Philadelphia, Chicago) and amazing ones (D.C. United), but that’s really not the case at all.

Philadelphia was missing key offensive pieces yesterday (Le Toux and Aristeguieta), and still looked like a decent outfit, offensively at least. I was very impressed by their No. 10 Maidana, who has the type of distribution skills that a team like IMFC surely covets. Are they a good team? Maybe not, but they’re definitely not garbage, like a certain radio host alluded to on Friday. (More on that in a second.)

Meanwhile, a team like D.C. United is a pretty good club, but is far from unbeatable. They have had their fair share of ups and downs this year, and didn’t look dominant at all on home turf in a 1-0 win over IMFC in March.

Okay, let’s get back to that radio show. After a guest, a footy pundit I’ll call Bofiane Senzaza, predicted the score of Saturday’s game would end 2-2 (bang-on, bro), this certain radio host replied something to the effect of: "Against Philadelphia? That’s basically a loss." For me, this was a roundabout way of saying that If IMFC can’t beat a garbage team like Philly on the road, they can't beat anyone. And if they can't beat anyone, we might as well just give up.

It’s this kind of misguided attitude that bleeds down through the fan base, and starts making people think that the Impact are much worse than they actually are. Not only was his assessment false (we beat a better Columbus Crew team on the road), but its, I suspect, based on an uninformed opinion. The Union has lost twice in 10 games at home this year.  They may not be a great team, but they’re clearly not easy to beat at home.

The truth of the matter is that IMFC isn’t much better than the Union, and to that point, D.C. United isn’t much better than IMFC.

It’s called parity. Get used to it.