On Sunday, the Montreal Impact played their final home game of the 2016 MLS regular season. That final match was an entertaining 2-2 draw versus their bitter rivals from down the 401: Toronto FC. In this quick paced match, the sellout crowd at Saputo Stadium witnessed a stunning goal by Nacho Piatti and a few dramatic saves by Evan Bush. The combination of the Impact's draw and New England's loss has assured the Impact a spot in the postseason for a third time in the club's short history in the MLS.
Sadly, this great football match was overshadowed by more of Didier Drogba's shenanigans. I will get into them later in the article.
Without further ado, here are my thumbs up and thumbs down for the Impact's match versus TFC.
Evan Bush: It's hard to express how important the Impact's keeper has been to their recent success. Bush has been at the top of his game in recent matches and he continued to impress versus Toronto FC. Bush did let in 2 goals but both were fired in from close range and left our keeper helpless. He also got a good deal of help from the stellar play of his goalposts who warded off shots from Armando Kooper and Atomic Flea Sebastien Giovinco. Bush was even more active than his goalposts as he made quite a few dazzling saves to frustrate Toronto. Like when he parried a sizzling shot fired from all of 10 yards out by Jonathan Osorio in the 16th minute. Bush also leapt high into the air to get a hand on Giovinco's curling shot late in the 2nd half.
For the third match in a row, Bush's clinical play secured a result for the Impact. Those points got us into the post season so we can thank our American keeper for this postseason birth. Performance rating: 8.5/10
Ignacio Piatti: Our Argentinian midfielder once again proved why he deserves to be in the conversation for MVP. Piatti was hard at work down his left flank taking on all comers. Piatti was lethal with the ball at his feet and was able to weave his way around TFC's defenders on quite a few occasions. In fact, he finished the game with an impressive 3 successful dribbles. It was that elusiveness that permitted him to find the back of the net and open the scoring for the Impact in the 19th minute. Later, Piatti masterfully converted the penalty in the 55th minute to give the Impact their 2nd lead of the match.
Piatti was also busy creating opportunities from the midfield. He dropped back deeper in order to regain possession and distribute the ball up the pitch. Nacho has developed a nice chemistry with newcomer Matteo Mancosu and the two combined on a few occasions to create some interesting opportunities for the Impact. Performance Rating: 8/10
Crosses: The Impact had trouble converting on their crosses and defending Toronto's crosses.
On the offensive end of the ball, the Impact racked up fourteen attempted crosses over the course of the match. Eight of those crosses came from open play and the remaining 6 originated from set pieces. What is disappointing is the fact the Impact were only able to connect on 2 of those crosses. None of the 6 crosses attempted by our fullbacks found a blue jersey in TFC's box.
On the defensive end of the ball, the Impact were just as poor. We had a good bit of trouble dealing with Toronto's 16 crosses. In fact, in the 50th minute a cross was fired into our box for the physical Jozy Altidore. Neither Laurent Ciman nor Ambroise Oyongo were able to clear the ball and Altidore capitalized by netting Toronto's 1st goal of the match. It was essentially the same story for the 2nd goal. Once again, a cross was fired into the box towards Altidore. The American beat Ciman and Oyongo before feeding Canadian international Tosaint Ricketts who buried from a few yards out to even up the score in the 87th minute.
It is essential that the Impact improve their play concerning crosses if we are to have any hope in the post season. Crosses Rating: 4.5/10
Didier Drogba: As promised, I will dive into the most recent episode in the tale of Didier Drogba and the Montreal Impact. Here is a brief resume of the situation as it currently stands: prior to Sunday's match, Didier was informed that he was going to be starting the match on the bench. Once Didier realised that he was not going to feature in the starting 11 he informed the team that he was not going to be part of the 18.
Before the start of the match, IMFC tweeted out that Drogba was not going to be available due to back stiffness. Immediately, rumors started swirling that it was Drogba who did not want to be on the bench and when the club would not cave, he abandoned the team. Drogba was not anywhere to be found at Saputo Stadium during the match.
During his post match press conference, head coach Mauro Biello immediately addressed the issue. He stated that Drogba did have back stiffness but not enough to prevent him from playing and that Drogba did demand to be removed from the available 18 for the match versus Toronto.
On Tuesday, owner Joey Saputo hoped to put the matter to rest when he publicly announced that the club and Didier had reconciled and that the Chelsea legend was ready to accept whatever role the coaching staff demanded of him.
This entire saga has left me extremely disappointed in Didier Drogba. The Ivorian claimed he came here to win and I hope that means for the club to win, not him personally. Only time will tell if this incident will motivate Drogba or create a rift in the locker room. Performance Rating: 0/10
If we look beyond the whole Drogba fiasco, we realize that the Impact played a solid ninety minutes of football and most importantly, we officially qualified for the playoffs. We will be playing a knock-out stage match. All that remains to be seen is who we will play against and if we will play at home or on the road. IMFC's final match of the regular season will be played next week in New England versus the Revolution. A win in this important match would go a long way towards securing home field advantage in the knock-out round of the playoffs. Also, it will be interesting to see if Drogba returns to the bench or starting lineup for this all important match.