After 90 minutes of play at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, our Montreal Impact were staring down their 2nd consecutive loss until Dominic Oduro connected on a cross from the one and only Didier Drogba to scavenge 1 point. The Impact's 1st draw of the season came against a struggling NYCFC squad.
The team from the Big Apple definitely does not lack star power with the likes of David Villa, Andreas Pirlo and Frank Lampard. The Manchester United affiliate has however proved that even with all the oil money in the world, you cannot buy victories. Both NYCFC and Man City have some of the highest payrolls in their respective leagues and both have so far fallen short of their lofty expectations. The Impact hoped to take advantage on Wednesday but it was NYCFC who set the pace and dominated the match. The Impact were lucky to escape from the City that never sleeps with a road point. Here are my thumbs up and thumbs down for this Wednesday's match against NYCFC.
Wandrille Lefèvre: The young Canadian was filling in this week after two disappointing performances by Argentinian center back Victor Cabrera. The 27 year old Wandrille who has just recently become a Canadian citizen had a nearly flawless performance in the 1st half and his output in the 2nd half was nearly as perfect.
Wandrille had an impressive 4 tackles won compared to only 1 tackle lost. He intercepted NYCFC 3 times in the 8th, 15th and 91st minutes. The young dual citizen was 2nd in balls recovered to only the great Laurent Ciman. The only downside of an otherwise standout performance was his involvement in the play that led to NYCFC's goal. Wandrille covered Thomas McNamara and prevented him from shooting but he was not able to stop McNamara from playing the ball onto RJ Allen who netted his first MLS goal in his first MLS start. Performance Rating: 8/10
Tactical Adjustments: This week, the thumbs down point is the absence of tactical adjustments. We all know that this week's game was held in the iconic Yankee Stadium. Even the most hard core soccer junkies know that Yankee Stadium is a magnificent BASEBALL stadium. As a soccer venue, it really stinks. The soccer pitch is in the Yankees' outfield and is much too small to be a respectable soccer venue. The size of the soccer field in Yankee Stadium is 101 by 64 meters. In comparison, Saputo Stadium dimensions are of 110 by 70 meters. So, Saputo's Stadium is 1 236 meters2 larger than the lame excuse for a soccer venue in New-York.
It is embarrassing that the MLS forces soccer superstars to play at this stadium. Regardless of my feelings about the pitch, the Impact still had to play 90 minutes of soccer there and that obviously entails adapting to the dimensions of Yankee Stadium. It seems obvious that on such a small field, you cannot simply chug the ball behind the opposing team's back line and hope for the best. Mauro Biello understood that since he put out a ball control focused starting 11 but someone forgot to tell those 11 players not to try the big lobs. The smaller pitch also means more pressure on the ball carrier since everyone is closer together. All in all, the Impact did not modify their play to the stadium and that nearly cost IMFC 3 points. Luckily, our African strikers were able connect to save a point that we probably did not deserve. If the Impact are to have a successful season, we will need to learn how to adapt to the pitch and to the other team's tactical formation.
This week could definitely have been the Impact's 4th loss of the MLS season and maybe we deserved to lose but we did not. During the season you will lose some games you should win and you will get points from games you deserve to loose. The Impact where definitely lucky but we have to give credit to Dominic Oduro who scored a highlight reel goal that nearly reduced NYCFC keeper Josh Saunders to tears. This scoring in extra time thing might be great for the highlight reels but it is not a long term solution. The Impact need to be able to score goals consistently if we want to be contenders for the MLS cup this year and in the future. All that said, it was great to see us salvage a point in a midweek game.
Thanks for reading and I would love to hear from you in the comment section. See you next week after the Impact's game versus the Colorado Rapids.