First things first, need to start this by praising the joint effort of Laurent Ciman and Victor Cabrera at central defense. They're both strong and well-rounded players individually, but together they're simply dominant. Great game by the both of them, this duo is getting stronger by the week.
The fullbacks also put on a strong display (all three of them). What Hassoun Camara sometimes lacks on the defensive side of things he makes up for with offensive prowess. His goal injected some much needed confidence in the Montreal side. His physicality, comfort with the ball at his feet, and aerial dominance are a pleasure to watch and sorely missed when he's not on the pitch.
Donny Toia contributed with another of his usual rock solid defensive showings. Ambroise Oyongo provided width, quickness and creativity going forward. Oyongo also managed to notch up an assist in only 20 minutes of play to wrap up the game on a brilliant fake and cross. The three fullbacks provide Mauro Biello with loads of flexibility and an impressive bag of tricks at his disposal.
Have we seen the end of the Oyongo on the left and Toia on the right experiment? Toia has looked stronger the past two games playing back on the left, and with crosses like that coming from Oyongo right foot it's hard to justify putting him on the left. It's still early into the season and they've only played two full games in the new formation, but this games evidence will be hard to ignore.
Another strong two way performance by Eric Alexander, he helped shutdown Federico Higuain in the center of the pitch as well as bringing lots moving forward. I have a hard time staying seated when imagining what a lower midfield combination of Alexander 2016 and Marco Donadel will look like when they're both healthy.
Kyle Bekker has made the most of his two back to back starts. Hard to argue with statistics from this game: 59 successful passes from 64 attempts and one goal. The pleasant surprise is he's also putting in the defensive effort which he was often criticized for lacking. Biello seems to have found the way to get the most out of him.
Third goal post of the year for Lucas Ontivero, he was once again the most threatening player going forward. Shows a lot of confidence in shooting and dribbling. Can't wait for him to break the ice in MLS. Once again replaced 67 minutes into the game by Johan Venegas. Good showing by Venegas as well, had one strong opportunity on net, but was thwarted by a turf bounce.
Quiet game from Harrison Shipp. Not a bad game, just seemed less present than we saw in his earlier performances. If the trend and their level of play continues to impress I believe we'll see more of Johan Venegas and Kyle Bekker in the offensive mid position. I'm convinced we're not helping Shipp or ourselves by playing him on the left. We saw this with him in Chicago as well, he's shown a lot more in the center mid role. Shipp was subbed out with ten minutes remaining for the more defensive oriented Calum Mallace. Mallace was well composed and helped to shut the game down.
Peculiar day for Ignacio Piatti he was all over the field forcing recoveries and interceptions (18!), but lacked the killer instinct we've grown so accustomed to seeing from him in the box. We can't blame him for the loads of bad bounces forced from the awful Big-O turf. However more concerning is we're seeing the same Piatti from last year which seemed frustrated until one Didier Drogba showed up. He seemed to hesitate and pick the more difficult option on quite a few occasions yesterday. I'll get to the point, he seems to avoid passing to Dominic Oduro whenever possible. I think he just doesn't have much faith in his striker. The visual evidence is hard to ignore. Furthermore, I'd prefer to see him stick to the left side of the pitch. I'm still not sold on him playing the central role.
Dominic Oduro seems to have lost the edge and some focus. He isn't linking well with the other attacking players. He's "earned" some rest and needs to be benched next game.
Fairly easy day at work for Evan Bush. Two saves, his distribution improved and he seemed more composed in the box compared to last game.
Mauro Biello's changes were well timed, brought in fresh legs when needed and defensive coverage to wrap up the game.