The Impact played their 2nd Wednesday match of the MLS season and it also happened to be the 2nd match of a challenging Western road trip before returning to Saputo Stadium. The Impact faced off versus the reigning MLS champs, the Portland Timbers. Like their last game versus Real Salt Lake, the Impact succeeded in playing to a 1-1 draw.
In this game, the Impact fell to an early 1-0 deficit before rallying to secure a road point in a 1-1 draw thanks to Ignacio Piatti's equalizing goal late into the 1st half of play. Here are my thumbs up and thumbs down for the Impact's draw versus the Portland Timbers.
Ignacio Piatti: Nacho has been criticized lately for not providing enough of an offensive spark. However, no one can critique Piatti for not animating the Impact's attack vs Portland.
The Argentinian's equalizing goal was simply superb. The commentator on TVA could not help himself from muttering an "incroyable" at Piatti's brilliant solo effort. Not only was Piatti able to make his way around a slew of Portland defenders, he also never gave up. Even when our #10 came timbering to the pitch, he got right back up and continued his efforts. Those efforts quickly paid off since they led to Piatti scoring the equalizing goal in the 43rd minute. What impressed me with that sequence was that Nacho did not lie on the pitch and beg for a foul that never would have come. Instead, he got back up and scored.
Apart from his goal, Piatti's statistics were also impressive. He had 22 successful passes compared to only 4 incomplete ones. He also had 2 successful dribbles (he averages 2.5/game) and managed 5 recoveries, 4 in the Timbers half. Performance Rating: 8/10
Johan Venegas: I was happy to see Mauro Biello make the gutsy call to play the talented Costa Rican as striker. During his stint with the Costa Rican national team at the Copa America, we all witnessed what he can do playing up top.
Venegas was at his best in the first half. The 27 year old seemed confident. In the past he sometimes looked lost playing on the wing but that was not the case as striker. Venegas was always present, finding small pockets of space and offering himself as a target for a pass. Venegas finally seemed comfortable going for goal. The Impact's man from Limon Costa Rica attempted a long distance knuckler of a shot in the 36th minute that forced the Timber's keeper to make an awkward save. Performance Rating: 7/10
Evan Bush: If you have been following my articles, you will know that I very rarely criticize the keeper. Today, I will make an exception. Evan Bush turned in a poor performance on Wednesday even though MLS stats accorded him with 6 saves. On the Timbers' 1st goal, scored by Jack McInerney (yes, the same Jack Mac the Impact traded), Evan Bush moved off of his line in order to get a hand on the cross. As a keeper, whenever you make a play on the ball, you must make sure that you can make it to the ball and punch it to safety. Bush was not able to clear the ball and that permitted McInerney to head the ball into the back of the net.
A few minutes later, Bush once again came off his line to make a play at a cross but missed for a second time. In this instance, Lucas Ontivero cleared the ball off of the goal line to make sure that Portland did not double their lead.
In the 48th minute, McInerney attempted a long distance shot that Bush should have caught easily but instead juggled it dangerously. Luckily, no Portland players were close enough to capitalize on Bush's mistake. Performance Rating: 5.5/10
Kyle Bekker: The primary job of a central defending midfielder is to ensure a precise and timely distribution of the ball. Bekker did not accomplish that on Wednesday. His passes, if they were not backwards were imprecise. If he did not send an Impact player running after his pass, it was intercepted.
The other main responsibility of a defensive mid is to help out defensively on occasions like set pieces. When the Impact conceded a corner in the 13th minute, Bekker was assigned to cover McInerney. The Impact's former striker leaped clear over Bekker to score Portland's 1st goal of the match.
If you look at the Canadian's statistics he was not that impressive either. He finished the game with no tackles, no blocked shots, only 2 interceptions, 2 clearances and a hat trick of recoveries.
The highlight of Bekker's night came in the 66th minute. The 25 year old let fly a laser of a shot from his weaker left foot that was headed for the upper left corner of the Timber's net. The Portland's keeper was forced to make an acrobatic leap to his left to parry the shot. Performance Rating: 5/10
Well, the Impact have now concluded their short 2 game road trip out West. The Impact were able to secure 2 out of a potential 6 points and they did so without Didier Drogba. The Impact are now set to host NYCFC on Sunday at Saputo Stadium in front of a sellout crowd. With a win, the Impact could move into 2nd place in the East. Will they be able to capitalize versus David Villa, Andreas Pirlo, Frank Lampard and the rest of NYCFC?
Question of the Week:
Are you satisfied with the 2 points the Impact collected from their Western road trip?