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Box to Box: Montreal Impact vs Seattle Sounders

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So close but so far

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Impact earned a tie and one point in their home opener in front of almost 35 000 supporters. We were seconds away from taking three points, but the defending champions ended up being too much for Montreal’s tired legs and minds.

While the Montreal Impact seemed in good shape leading 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining in Saturday’s home opener, the statistics tell us otherwise. The Seattle Sounders dominated in almost every stat including; shots, possession, successful passes, corners and crosses.

The Bleu, Blanc et Noir did however have a much-improved outing compared to the season opener. IMFC looked good for a few long stretches of play, showing us a bit of the possession and high-press defence Mauro Biello mentioned so often during preseason training. This same high-press system and attacking fullbacks is probably the easiest place to point the finger at for the total capitulation towards the end.

In other words, they just ran out of gas. It also begs the question; Does this roster have the youth, DNA and stamina to compete using this system for 90+ minutes?

Still, there are quite a few positives to pull from the game:

  • Patrice Bernier gave it all, provided 2 assists and was all over the field until being subbed out in the 59th.
  • We saw Ignacio Piatti and Matteo Mancosu combine like they did end of 2016, both were menacing the Sounders backline throughout.
  • Newcomers Arregui, Tabla and Duvall all fit in and looked pretty good.
  • Good game management by Mauro Biello. Effective changes at good moments. Bernier had a very solid game, it was wise to rest him a little and bring in Adrian Arregui’s fresh legs to defend a 2 goal lead. Dominic Oduro hasn’t quite found his normal in season form so replacing him with Balou Jean-Yves Tabla gave the home fans a taste of what will hopefully be the future.

Not so positive points:

  • Impact are still terribly weak in defending from the left side. Much like 2016, Ambroise Oyongo was way too far up the pitch when defending a lead towards the end of the game. In fact both goals came from his side. Make no mistake, all of MLS knows to attack the Impact on the weak left side.

As good as Oyongo looks going forward with the ball, his defensive shortcomings are just too obvious. Hard to tell if he was supposed to be that far up according to orders or if he just took it upon himself to venture forward when defending a two goal lead. I feel the players beside him are also suffering, as they constantly have to cover for him not tracking back.

  • Victor Cabrera had an overall good game, but he cramped up once again towards the end of the game. This happens way too often to him, and shouldn’t be happening to a 24 year old. You don’t want to be subbing out central defenders towards the end of the game. His stamina needs to be addressed. Does he have what it takes to give 90’? Is there a lifestyle or diet issue? Is he putting in the necessary preparation and training?
  • Confidence issues seem to have settled in. Biello’s men have surrendered a few heartbreaking comebacks dating back to last season, they’ll have to dig deep and create a positive team atmosphere where everyone believes in each other to turn that around to have a successful playoff run.

The next few weeks don’t get any easier, but we’ve got a good game to build on. We’ll be visiting New York City FC, Chicago and the LA Galaxy on the road before coming back home for the Stade Saputo opener.