The Montreal Impact put on a show Saturday for the 27,545 fans at Olympic Stadium. For 90 minutes, the Impact dominated the New York Red Bulls, the team that won the Supporters Shield in 2015 for the most points in the MLS regular season. This Saturday's performance proved the efficiency of Mauro Biello's offensive system.
Re-live the game
The Impact's first real chance came in the 13th minute when Piatti sprung out into the clear yet was denied by the 2015 keeper of the year Luis Robles. The shot was decent by Piatti yet the sequence leading to his odd man rush was exquisite. Ambroise Oyongo smartly read and intercepted the Red Bull pass. The speedy Cameroonian fullback quickly took a few steps and crossed the ball to Lucas Ontivero. The small Argentinian saw Piatti's run down the left flank and sprayed out a perfectly placed pass. In a perfect scenario, Piatti's shot would have found the back of the net but it was still a delight to watch.
The next significant chance for the Impact came in the 18th minute. This scoring opportunity also originated with Oyongo when he raced down the left flank and centered the ball towards Harry Shipp. The former Chicago Fire midfielder then played the ball onto Ontivero who instantly let fly a right footed strike... that hit the post. The talented winger has yet to find the back of the net but I am certain it will not take long for Ontivero to score one for the Impact.
In the 57th minute, the deadlock was finally broken. This scoring sequence all started when Venegas intercepted a Red Bull pass and headed the ball to Piatti. The midfielder then returned the pass to the Costa Rican winger. The Impact then found themselves in a 2 on 1 situation with Venegas and Oduro. The Costa Rican international then threaded a beautiful pass between the legs of the Red Bulls defender Carl Ouiemette that reached Oduro. The speedy Ghanaian did not miss his chance. He finally beat Robles and gave the Impact a 1-0 lead.
The next Impact goal started at the very other end of the pitch with a magnificent save by Evan Bush's face (that must have hurt). Donny Toia grabbed the loose rebound and sprinted up the pitch. The Impact fullback then played on to the Argentinian maestro. Once again, Piatti was 1 on 1 with Luis Robles yet this time, Piatti got his way. He beat Robles at the near post and doubled the Impact's lead.
The final goal of the game came in the dying minutes yet the fact that his goal did not matter to the outcome was irrelevant to Anthony Jackson-Hamel. The Quebec native netted the first goal of his MLS career off of a chip pass from recently acquired Harry Shipp. Jackson-Hamel's goal was the culmination of a dominating final 10 minutes from the Impact.
From the 82nd minute on, the Impact dominated in possession. Biello proved that the best defense is a good offense. For the final minutes of the game, the Impact not only shut down the Red Bulls attack but also created their own opportunities in the 80th and 88th minutes.
On the down side, the Impact missed quite a few chances. On his own, Piatti missed 3 very decent scoring chances. On one occasion, the playmaker attempted to get too fancy and he wound up losing the ball 4 yards in front of Robles' net. Ontivero also should have buried his opportunity in the first half yet he just missed, he hit the post. The missed chances did not cost the Impact anything this week yet in other games, those chances can make the difference between a win and a loss.
Mastering the Art of Substitution
Either Mauro Biello has a knack for substitutions or is extremely lucky. Anyway, two of his changes directly contributed to the Impact's win. Biello sent Venegas onto the pitch in the 57th minute and he orchestrated Oduro's goal with a clinical interception and a beautiful pass. Venegas came on for Ontivero who had to be pulled from the game for the second time (out of 2 games) this season because of muscle cramps in his legs. Biello's third and final substitution was Jackson-Hamel in the ninety-third minute and he scored his goal in the ninety-fourth minute.
This Saturday's game was another very impressive performance by the Montreal Impact. We were able to score 3 goals and had many more chances versus a very good New York squad. The Impact also out-shot the Red Bulls 14 to 9 and split possession just about 50-50.
The club was able to put on this showing without star striker and designated player Didier Drogba. Hopefully, we will see Drogba next week in Dallas on a grass pitch which is only a 3 hour plane ride from where he is training in Sacramento. If the Impact can keep up this level of play, they are destined for great things this season.