Two up, two down, two up. That is the record of our Montreal Impact over the first 6 games of the 2016 MLS season. The Impact's most recent win came this Saturday in Chicago versus the Fire at Toyota Stadium. Last year under Frank Klopas, it took the Bleu-Blanc-Noir until August to get their first 2 road wins.
After the 1st half of the match, the Impact led in possession (65.9%), shots on target (2), successful passes (85.1%) and aerial battles won (80%). The only domain where Chicago led was the goal column. Kennedy Igboananike opened the scoring in the 28th minute with a long distance strike that just narrowly avoided Evan Bush's outstretched fingertips.
When I sat down to write my traditional thumbs up and thumbs down this week, I found myself struggling to make my choices. Almost every player on the pitch had their outstanding moments and their not so outstanding moments. So this week I write about my thumbs up and thumbs down plays for each player.
Evan Bush: It would be hard to blame the Illinois native for the Fire's first goal. That is not a shot you expect your goalie to stop but with Evan Bush in nets, we can always hope for a miracle. If Bush had any regrets after the first goal, he definitely had none after his astonishing save in the 75th minute.
That breathtaking dive to his left to parry Alex Morrell's shot from point blank range is definitely my nomination for week 7 save of the week. -- Performance Rating: 8.5/10
Donny Toia: The former Chivas USA man had another quiet but very solid game defensively. On Igboananike's goal, Toia was caught pinching up and he was a few steps behind on Chicago's dangerous counter attack. But, the goal came from the Impact's right flank that is not Toia's responsibility.
I would also like to see Toia become more involved in the Impact's attack with timed runs down his flank and crosses into the box. -- Performance Rating: 7.5/10
Laurent Ciman: The great "Saint Laurent de la défense" had another impressive performance. Our star Belgian defender has the responsibility of covering the opposing team's most dangerous forwards. Unfortunately, the only play some people will remember from Saturday's performance will be his uncharacteristic lack of pressure on Kennedy Igboananike on the play that led to Chicago's goal. -- Performance Rating: 8/10
Victor Cabrera: The young argentine was disappointing for the first time this season. In the 3rd minute of play, Cabrera was caught on the wrong side of Igboananike and that allowed the Nigerian to send a header towards Bush's net. After an aerial collision with Jonathan Campbell in the 12th minute of play, Cabrera immediately asked for medical attention. Later, in the 28th minute, it was Cabrera who missed the tackle that let Gilberto spring free into the Impact's half. Gilberto then sent the ball to Igboananike who netted the first goal of the game a few seconds later.
Cabrera's medical issues eventually forced him to leave in the first minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half. -- Performance Rating: 5/10
Hassoun Camara: Mauro Biello once again favored the experienced Cameroonian over the other right back, Ambroise Oyongo. Camara proved his worth on set pieces. In the 11th minute, Bekker sent in a perfectly placed cross on a free kick. Camara jumped clear over his defender and sent the ball sailing towards the net but it was cleared from the line by Jonathan Campbell. It is in these situations that the MLS needs goal line technology to assure the right call is made.
Camara's defensive play was solid even though he was caught high on the Fire's first goal. -- Performance Rating: 8/10
Middle of the pitch
Eric Alexander: The American holding midfielder also had a strong defensive game. The 28 year old did not commit many defensive mistakes and assured a decent flow between the back and front four. Alexander seemed to finally understand the concept of moving the ball forwards which he did not seem to grasp in previous games. His offensive game was slightly better this week than last week. -- Performance Rating: 6.5/10
Kyle Bekker: Bekker has filled in the best he can in Marco Donadel's long absence. His set piece delivery was very good on Camara's header in the 11th minute but when Marco Donadel came in for the young Canadian in the 33rd minute, we saw the difference.
No offence to Bekker but Donadel adds a whole other dimension to the Impact's game. -- Performance Rating: 6.5/10
These are my ratings for the Impact's back four and holding midfielders. Stay tuned for my ratings on the rest of the Montreal squad. Feel free to let me know what you think by leaving a comment.