Coach: Frank Klopas – 6.5/10
It’s hard to know how much Klopas is to thank for putting out a superior lineup to the one he fielded on Wednesday, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt I suppose. The big problem areas I pointed out against Chicago – Soumare at CB and Reo-Coker at RB – were rectified with much abler replacements in my opinion, and neither (Oyongo and Lefèvre) failed to impress. I will give him props for noticing Alexander wasn’t really working on the left, and replacing him with a speedier player in Tissot.
K: Evan Bush – 6/10
It was a fairly easy game for Evan to navigate on Wednesday, though he did make his standard, really bad pass, which resulted in a big scoring chance for Vancouver. He wasn’t really tested in net, but did do a good job to fight through traffic on corner kicks to claim crosses.
CB: Laurent Ciman – 8/10
Ciman was his usual composed self for the Impact against Vancouver, and even threw in an expertly taken half volley for good measure. The way that his teammates constantly look for him when they’re in a jam with the ball, kind of lets you know who the real captain of this team is. If the Impact had a similar type of composed player in midfield to pull the strings, they’d really be in business.
CB: Wandrille Lefèvre – 7.5/10
Wandrille Lefèvre=Baby Ciman. The way he passes and sets himself up for a tackle is very similar to Ciman’s style of play. The only thing he really needs to work is reading the trajectory of aerials better, so as to anticipate when to jump for a header. He lost his man in the box in the first half, and it resulted in a pretty decent chance for the Whitecaps. Besides that and an unnecessary foul late in the game, he played really well.
LB: Donny Toia 7/10
Due to Alexander’s lack of pace on the wing, Toia ended up making a bunch of runs down the left side in the first half, with varying results. Making marauding runs and delivering in big crosses doesn’t really seem to be in his wheelhouse. That said, he did well to make the most of these plays, and didn’t give away possession needlessly. Defensively, it was another game where it seemed that his side of the pitch was unbothered, which is either because Vancouver didn’t have as much as much quality on that side, or they decided to go after the less-experienced Oyongo. He did well when challenged though, and made a key block in the second half off of an opponent shot just outside of the box.
RB: Ambroise Oyongo 7.5/10
Back in a more comfortable position at RB, Oyongo looked great on Wednesday. Was very composed on the ball, and didn’t try any fancy overrunning, despite his excellent foot speed. I was also very impressed with his overall strength, as he seemed to have no trouble muscling opponents off of the ball. What’s also very encouraging about him is his work rate, which did not go down much at all throughout the match. Like Romero, he seems to have a great engine, and played the full 90’ with ease.
DM: Patrice Bernier 7.5/10
Atta boy Patrice, show Frank what you got! Bernier was really sharp against Vancouver, displaying the kind of composure that Donadel lacked in the previous match. I’ve stated before that I think he is the closest thing to a CAM on this team, a general in midfield who looks to unlock the defence with a pass. Nothing really came off on Wednesday, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying, as he definitely put the Whitecaps defense on notice. Overall I thought his passing and decision-making in the middle of the pitch was very good, if not excellent.
DM: Calum Mallace – 7/10
Calum was another player that ended the contest strong, defending well in the later stages of the game when Vancouver was pressing for an equalizer. Probably ended up with the ball a bit too much in front of the opponent’s box, but as I pointed out in my post game review, that’s mostly due to the lack of an alpha dog in the middle of the pitch. So whenever he mishandles the ball or takes a weak shot on net, you shouldn’t be too hard on him. Don’t get me wrong, I think Mallace has decent technical ability on the ball, but he’s a DM for a reason. He’s at his best when he’s able to play to his strengths, which are defending and making quick accurate passes to his teammates, and that was more often than not on display against Vancouver.
LM: Eric Alexander 5.5/10
I’m not going to say that Alexander is out of his element on the wing, but it’s clearly not a strength of his either. Always looked a bit confused when he got the ball out in open space, never sure whether to continue running down the sideline or to cutback into the middle. Didn’t have a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, as he passed well and made good effort plays, but wasn’t really a difference maker either.
CAM: Nacho Piatti – 8/10
Was a danger all night long, specifically in the second half after Tissot came on for Alexander. Displayed incredible technique on the ball, nutmegging opponents at will, and even at times his teammates! That of course is still a bit of the problem with the talismanic forward, who seems to continuously be played out of position in the middle. It’s not the end of the world, and of course he was brilliant on the winning goal, but one still wonders how much better this team can potentially be with him playing on the left wing next to a real passing CAM.
RM: Andrés Romero – 8/10
I won’t lie or beat around the bush: Romero is my favorite Impact attacker. Why? Well it’s simple really: he never stops working, and he always looks to make the best possible play for himself and his teammates. Had an off first 45’ where he tried to match Piatti’s fanciness or something in that vein, but made up for it in spades with a corker of a second half. Set up plays for his teammates left and right, and worked hard on the defensive end right up until the final whistle. Great effort, great assist on the winning goal, and great game overall. Chapeau, Andrés.
Striker: Jack McInerney 7.5/10
Was Johhny-on-the-spot once again for the Impact’s opening goal, and did really well to come back defensively to win headers in the box and help start counter attacks. People may believe that he just scores goals than disappears, but that’s really not the case. Was physical in the middle of the pitch to win headers, and developed some nice chemistry with Romero that resulted in a couple of good chances.
Subs: Tissot, Reo-Coker, Jackson-Hamel
The subs were mostly positive in my opinion, especially Tissot, who injected a lot of energy down the left flank. The Impact offence seemed much more dynamic after his entrance, and he even managed a pretty decent shot on target. Reo-Coker seemed to do well enough in place of Bernier by also providing some good energy, and Jackson-Hamel impressed, displaying a decent first touch and some good offensive instincts. Made a key pass to Romero on the Piatti winning goal, and did really well moments later, getting a boot on Romero’s cross for a near miss by the right post.