After a draw last week versus the Seattle Sounders that felt more like a loss, the Montreal Impact pulled off a draw this week versus NYCFC that felt more like a win. New York dominated for the first half and the Impact retreated to the locker room lucky to be down by only a goal; it could easily have been a two or three goal gap. However, the Impact turned things around in the 2nd half.
IMFC came out with more conviction and started moving the ball around much more confidently. Their efforts were finally rewarded when Patrice Bernier spotted Dominic Oduro in the box in the 68th minute and the Ghanaian skillfully converted to tie the game at one. Here are my thumbs up and thumbs down for the Impact’s 1-1 draw versus NYCFC.
Patrice Bernier: The Impact’s 37 year old captain had a phenomenal performance on Saturday. Bernier was by far the most dominant player on the pitch for the Impact. He had more energy than any of our younger players (I’m looking at you Oyongo) and covered an impressive amount of ground and always seemed to be in NYCFC’s hair.
The Impact lined up in a 4-2-3-1, with Bernier playing as our #10. The change of formation clearly suited our captain. He finished the match with an amazing pass completion rate of over 95%. That’s right, 95%, a nine with a five after. Any player, in any league in the world, would be thrilled to have a 95% completion rate. Over 93 minutes, Bernier made only 3 incomplete passes and the passes he made were not the easy ones. He was not content to move the ball backwards, he was always looking forwards and drawing more players into the play. His impressive passing eventually paid off. In the 68th minute, Bernier sent in a perfectly weighted ball onto Oudro’s chest that I’m sure even made the great Andreas Pirlo jealous. Oduro then turned towards goal and rifled the ball into the top of the net to tie the game.
It has been a while since I have seen a truly dominant performance by a central attacking midfielder in Impact blue but on Saturday, Bernier put on an quite the show. He demonstrated that even at 37 he can make soccer look more like an art form than a sport. I have just one question for our captain: are you sure you want to retire at the end of the season?
Performance rating: 9.5/10
Ambroise Oyongo: While I might have been stunned by Bernier’s world class performance, Oyongo was at the other end of the spectrum. The Cameroonian fullback was not on his game. While he might have contributed offensively, his defensive contributions were similar to those of a strategically placed 5’8” orange pylon. To be honest, I would have preferred the pylon on a few occasions. For example, in the 3rd minute, Oyongo was supposed to be marking Jack Harrison. The talented youngster casually strolled away from Oyongo to take up a position in front of goal. Oyongo clearly did not see the necessity of picking up Harrison’s half hearted run and Harrison found himself alone in front of goal. When he received the ball, he was clearly so surprised that he hadn’t been picked up that he fired his shot up and over the cross bar. Oyongo continued to struggle at picking up opposing runs. He was also slow in his closing down of New York’s attackers. Hopefully he can find more energy and a better ability to defend before our next match.
Performance Rating: 4/10
Matteo Mancosu: Once again, Mancosu saw very little of the ball on Saturday. Last week, Mancosu had the least touches of the ball of any player on the pitch. While I might not have the exact numbers this week, I know that Mancosu had very few touches again. The blame for that is on both Mancosu and his teammates, namely Ignacio Piatti. Piatti was clearly not in a passing mood on Saturday, he preferred to take on four NYCFC defenders rather than pass the ball. This resulted in his Italian teammate seeing very little of it. However, Mancosu must also shoulder a large part of the blame. The striker did not seem interested in implicating himself in the creation of any attacks. He spent most of the 90 minutes lurking off the back shoulder of New York’s center backs and waiting to dash into space. Sadly, that strategy is not very well adapted to the ridiculously small dimensions of Yankee Stadium. On the few occasions his teammates tried to play the direct ball over the heads of NYCFC’s backline, Mancosu mistimed his run and found himself offside time and time again. Mancosu has a unidimensional game, if he doesn’t receive enough service, he is useless. It will be up to Mancosu and his teammates to find a solution before the Impact’s next match.
Performance Rating: 5.5/10
Next week, there will be no MLS action due to the international break. That means that IMFC’s next game will be on April 1st against the revamped Chicago Fire. During the international break, the Impact’s Laurent Ciman will be playing with the Belgian squad for their match versus Greece on March 25th. Hopefully we will have Le Général back for our match versus the fire on the 1st. I expect that Mauro Biello will take advantage of the two week break to iron out the mistakes he saw in our play this weekend. We can also hope that this break will be the perfect opportunity for Andres Romero to regain his fitness and rejoin the 18 for our match versus the Fire.
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