In a clash atop of the Eastern Conference on Sunday at Stade Saputo, our Bleu Blanc Noir faced off versus NYCFC. The Impact were looking to close the gap with top ranked NYCFC but were unable to capitalize on their opportunities and eventually fell 3-1.
The Impact were dominant in the opening minutes of the match and I was impressed with the scoring occasions they created early on. The Impact were moving the ball well and finding dangerous spaces from which to shoot from. Sadly, Montreal did not convert any of those good chances. On their side, NYCFC capitalized on just about every single one of their scoring opportunities. Here are my thumbs up and thumbs down for the Impact's match versus NYCFC.
Harry Shipp: Shipp scored his 1st goal with the Impact last weekend versus Real Salt Lake. He continued his notable play on Wednesday versus the Portland Timbers and on Sunday, the Ohio native took his game to a whole new level of impressive.
Shipp caught my attention early on with his high energy. The former Chicago Fire man was a constant presence up an down his left flank. His efforts nearly paid off 43 seconds into the match when the 24 year old floated in a perfectly placed pass into the path of Didier Drogba. The Ivorian attempted to rifle a shot past NYCFC keeper Josh Saunders but the keeper was able to get in front of the shot.
Harry Shipp continued his dazzling play in the 2nd half. He consistently found pockets of space on his left wing. Shipp was not scared to take on defenders but he still tracked back defensively. Shipp found himself some open space in the 55th minute. From there, he sent what originally appeared to be a cross but wound up beating Saunders and bringing the Impact within one goal of New York. Performance Rating: 9/10
Back Four: Sunday's back four was composed of Ambroise Oyongo, Victor Cabrera, Wandrille Lefevre and Hassoun Camara. As a unit, their play was solid but they made precisely 3 significant mistakes. Guess what? NYCFC scored 3 times. Turns out that when you give up opportunities to Andreas Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa they make you pay. Who knew. The first mistake came in the 34th minute. Villa was 1 on 1 vs Cabrera. The Impact's center back was not able to cover Villa and fell to the ground. The former FC Barcelona man was alone in front of Evan Bush. David Villa scored.
Right before entering the locker room at half time, it was Oyongo's turn to be embarrassed. The Cameroonian fullback was turned inside out by New York's Jack Harrison. To add insult to injury, Oyongo finished that sequence by missing his sliding tackle on Harrison who then curled the ball around Bush's outstretched fingertips.
Cue the 3rd mistake: in the 84th minute both Cabrera and Johan Venegas challenged for an aerial ball. Neither one of them won it but they succeeded in taking each other out in spectacular fashion. That led to a 3 on 1 for NYCFC and Drogba's ex-teammate with Chelsea, Frank Lampard, scored.
Other than his mishap on the play with Harrison, Oyongo had a strong offensive game and contributed on quite a few occasions in the final third. Wandrille was a solid presence at the back and cannot be blamed for the unfortunate deflection that lead NYCFC's final goal. Hassoun Camara also had an respectable showing defensively but was not as active as he usually was offensively. Performance Ratings:
Ambroise Oyongo: 6/10
Wandrille Lefevre: 7/10
Victor Cabrera: 4.5/10
Hassoun Camara: 6.5/10
Sadly, the Impact fell but we can take some consolation from the fact that they played a very solid offensive 1st half and definitely did not deserve to be down by 2 after 45 minutes. We are also seeing a new and improved Harry Shipp who resembles the 2014 rookie of the year nominee.
On the down side, we did not capitalize on our opportunities and committed too many blatant defensive errors. Hopefully, the Impact can learn from their mistakes and most importantly get Ciman and Piatti back for Saturday's match versus the Philadelphia Union at Stade Saputo. This will be another chance for the Impact to close the gap with the teams at the top of the Eastern Conference.