On Sunday, the Impact played their final match of the regular season against the New England Revolution. The Impact needed a win combined with a DC United loss to move into 4th place in the eastern conference and secure home field advantage for the knock-out round. Sadly, the Impact were not able to capitalize on DC's loss. On the bright side, the Impact did not concede the thirteen goals that New England needed to score to make the playoffs.
Another positive note is that the Impact rested key players such as Ignacio Piatti, Matteo Mancosu and Hernan Bernadello. That gave the chance to some of our youngsters to get their 1st minutes in the MLS. Here are my thumbs up and thumbs down for the Impact's 3-0 loss to the New England Revolution.
David Choiniere: Initially, I was skeptical when I saw Choiniere starting on the left wing. However, the academy product quickly proved me wrong. On a night where not much was happening offensively, Choiniere was a creative presence down the left wing. His dribbles were impressive and he was able to get himself into a few dangerous positions in the Rev's 18 yard box. Choiniere also managed one of the Impact's 2 shots on target. His blast in the 48th minute forced New England keeper Cody Cropper to make a diving save to his left. Performance Rating: 7.5/10
Midfield Duo: By midfield duo, I am referring to Calum Mallace and Harry Shipp. Mallace and Shipp were filling in for the usual combination of Hernan Bernadello and Marco Donadel. Sadly, the Scotish/American duo struggled in Sunday's match. They were not able to slow down the Revolution's progression through the midfield and they gave New England's forwards way too much room in our own half. Between the two of them, Shipp and Malace only accumulated 2 clearances, 2 tackles and an interception. Those stats prove why they are clearly Biello's 2nd string midfielders.
On the offensive side of the ball, they struggled as well. Even though the Revolution were piling on the pressure and thereby leaving their defence threadbare and vulnerable, the Impact were never able to mount a threatening counter attack. That failure to counter attack started with Shipp's and Mallace's inability to redistribute the ball once we recovered possession. The midfield duo were content to sit back in front of our defenders instead of pressing higher up the pitch. That is an acceptable tactical decision if the Impact were protecting a lead and willing to sacrifice a little offence but not when we needed a win to secure home field advantage. Performance Rating:
Harry Shipp: 6/10
Calum Mallace: 5/10
Fullbacks: Isn't it fitting that we are going to finish the regular season by discussing the exact same thing we were talking about at the start the year: the fullbacks. On Sunday, Mauro Biello decided to start Ambroise Oyongo at left back and Donny Toia at right back. Both had a poor performance versus New England.
Let's start with Donny Toia. The American was favored to start over youngster Amadou Dia. Toia is known for his solid defending but also for his lack of contribution to the attack. Against the Revs, Toia was once again a non-factor in the Impact's offense but he was also a liability on the defensive end of the pitch. Toia failed to close down incoming attackers and struggled in the defending of crosses. In fact, most of New England's crosses originated from Toia's right flank. However, I found the aspect in which the former Chivas USA man struggled the most was his clearances. On multiple occasions, Toia attempted to boot the ball out of his own end to relieve some pressure but those attempted clearances were often intercepted and allowed New England to stay on the attack. Performance Rating: 5.5/10
Our other fullback, Ambroise Oyongo is our more offensive of the two but he struggles defensively. On Sunday Oyongo was a liability to the Impact's back, he failed to pressure the ball carrier on multiple occasions and let New England walk into our 18 yard box unopposed. That failure to remove time and space permitted Juan Agudelo to score in the 60th minute and double the Rev's lead. On the offensive end, Oyongo was just as poor. When he decided to run forwards, he did not seem to have any real intent. He was simply another body in the offensive third standing around without posing a threat. On the rare occasion when he found himself with the ball at his feet, Oyongo squandered possession with a sloppy pass or a long distance shot that would never beet the keeper. Performance Rating: 5/10
That was definitely not the way the Montreal Impact wanted to conclude the regular season but we are in the playoffs and we rested some of our most important players. We will have the opportunity to see if the gamble of resting players but relinquishing home field advantage will pay off when our Montreal Impact voyage to the American capital to face off versus the red-hot DC United this Thursday in the knock-out round of the 2016 MLS playoffs.