Wow, that was quite a show put on by the Impact. The team finally gelled as a unit and strung together series of precise passes that allowed them to move up the pitch. The Impact's play as a unit definitely paid off: 5 times! The Impact played their best football of the 2016 MLS season on their way to their most impressive win of the season.
The Impact have once again proven that Stade Saputo is a redoubtable place to come play soccer. Even though the legend Didier Drogba scored a hat trick, he was backed by a great supporting cast. I do not believe that any players had a sub par night so I only have thumbs up this week. Here are my thumbs up for the Impact's match versus the Philadelphia Union.
Didier Drogba: Who can say anything about Drogba's performance on Saturday? The great Ivorian was always at the right place at the right time. On two of his goals, Drogba did not put on a display of skill put proved that his football IQ is second to none. Even with his limited running, Drogba knows how to anticipate the play and position himself perfectly on the pitch. After scoring two tap in goals, Drogba completed his hat trick when he was sent in on a break away by Ignacio Piatti. It is interesting to note that Drogba scored all three of his goals with a single touch of the ball. No dribbling, just perfect finishing.
Apart from Didier's impressive offensive output, he was a great help defensively. Drogba was always contributing in the Impact's defensive half with decisive clearing headers. He finished the match with a tackle, an interception, 3 clearances and 3 recoveries. Not bad for a 38 year old who also scored a hat trick. Performance Rating: 9.5/10
Ignacio Piatti: Even though Piatti did not score a hat trick, he put on as much of a show as Drogba. Piatti came back from his one game suspension with a vengeance. He orchestrated Montreal's attack and seemed to be perfectly in sink with the rest of the team.
Piatti was instrumental in the Impact's first goal with a beautiful 1-2 with Ambroise Oyongo. On the second goal of the night, Piatti's breakaway shot was saved but the rebound was put in by Drogba and on Didier's third goal, it was Piatti who sent in the perfectly placed pass that Drogba zipped past the Union keeper. Eventually, Piatti got bored of orchestrating goals and decided to score one of his own: a beautiful goal in the 86th minute. Among Piatti's impressive accomplishments on Saturday, he finished the match with 7 recoveries.
On Saturday, Piatti had the best performance of an IMFC player this season. Piatti was masterful in all aspects of his game, he played like a true league MVP. I will give him the first perfect score of the season. Here it goes: Performance Rating: 10/10.
Patrice Bernier: The Impact's captain and ambassador has not had a lot of playing time lately so when he received the nod from Mauro Biello on Saturday, Bernier proved that he deserves to be a starter week in and week out.
On the offensive side of the ball, Bernier was pulling strings in the midfield and creating opportunities for Montreal. On the Impact's second goal, it was Bernier's turn to show off his play reading abilities. He intercepted a Union pass in the middle of the pitch and that interception permitted the Impact to double their lead. It was another recovery by the Impact's captain in the middle of the park that led to the final goal of Drogba's hat trick.
Bernier also contributed to the Impact's final goal. He carried the ball up the pitch on the transition before playing a beautifully placed cross towards Matteo Mancosu who scored his first goal with the Montreal Impact. There was no quit in Bernier's 36 year old legs. From the first whistle to the dying seconds, our captain was running up and down the pitch helping out both offensively and defensively. It was that perseverance that paid off when the Impact scored their fifth and final goal.
Bernier was not content with contributing on three of the Impact's goals; he was also a leader defensively. The captain racked up 2 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 clearances and 8 recoveries over the 90 minutes. Bernier's passing was also on the mark since he only had 5 unsuccessful passes. Performance Rating: 9/10
Ambroise Oyongo: The Cameroonian international is not getting enough credit for his dominant offensive and defensive play on Saturday. Oyongo seemed to develop exemplary chemistry with playmaker Ignacio Piatti during the game versus the Union. Among many successful plays with Piatti, one came in the 17th minute and led to Drogba opening the scoring. On that particular play, Oyongo and Piatti were able to move the ball around a throng of Union players. It was once again Piatti and Oyongo who combined on the Argentines goal in the 86th minute. Piatti played the ball to Oyongo deep on the left flank. From there, Oyongo returned the favor to Piatti who ripped a shot past the Union's all star keeper Andre Blake.
Oyongo was present on the Impact's attack with well placed crosses and perfectly timed runs. However, his offensive contribution did not undermine his defensive responsibilities since he finished the match with 2 interceptions, 5 clearances inside the Impact's box and 7 recoveries. Performance Rating: 8.5/10
The Montreal Impact played dominant football versus Philadelphia. The kind of football that can bring you deep into the MLS playoffs. The question now remains: can the Impact keep up this exemplary level of play for the remainder of the season? The Impact seem to be hitting their stride and all the while getting instrumental players back from injury such as Marco Donadel and Donny Toia. We will be able to see if the Impact keep up their positive momentum next week when we take on DC United in DC. However, Drogba will not be available since the Impact will be playing on artificial turf. Will this be an opportunity to see IMFC new comer Matteo Mancosu start as striker?
Question of the Week:
Who would you like to see start as striker next week in the absence of Didier Drogba?