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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Montreal Impact very rusty in season opener

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An analysis of want went well and what did not during IMFC’s season opener.

MLS: Montreal Impact at San Jose Earthquakes Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Impact got their regular MLS season campaign underway this Saturday versus the San Jose Earthquakes. After 90 minutes, the Quakes emerged with a narrow 1-0 win. If you were to simply look at the score line, you might be fooled into believing it was a closely fought, evenly matched game. Sadly, that could not be further from what truly happened.

The Impact were dominated from the opening whistle. We had very few offensive chances. Defensively, we gave San Jose multiple golden opportunities and we were lucky that it only finished 1-0. The fact that Hassoun Camara was sent off in the 66th minute definitely did not help the Impact’s cause. Here are my thumbs up and thumbs down for the Impact’s match versus San Jose.

Thumbs Up:

Evan Bush: While most players in Impact white, turned in impressively poor performances, Evan Bush was solid. He saved 3 out of the 4 shorts that were directed towards his net. He was also confident is his handling of aerial threats near his goal. If Bush had not been as alert, the score could easily have been 3-0 for the Quakes.

Bush’s one mistake came on San Jose’s goal. Bush appeared to be hesitant. He initially lunged off his line as if to leap towards the ball but then he seemed to change his mind and backed off slightly. This gave Anibal Godoy the time and space to chip the ball over Bush for what would turn out to be the winning goal.

Performance Rating: 7/10

Thumbs Down:

Patrice Bernier: Bernier was disappointing on Saturday night. I’m not sure if the 10pm kickoff was past the 37 year old’s bed time, but Bernier did not seem awake (to be fair, it didn’t seem as if any of his teammates were really awake either). He was not a threat offensively as his passes were inaccurate and he was a defensive liability for the Impact. Prior to the Quakes goal, Bernier received a pass in the defensive half. Bernier then started looking for the long pass and failed to notice the incoming Godoy. The Panamanian midfielder took advantage of Bernier’s lapse in concentration and stripped Bernier of possession. Godoy scored the winning goal a few seconds later.

Bernier has proven that he is normally a threat offensively and extremely reliable defensively. Let’s hope that Saturday’s performance was simply an off night and not the start of a trend for IMFC captain Patrice Bernier.

Performance Rating: 4.5/10

Passing: If we try to find the source of the Impact’s problems on Saturday, I believe it a can all be traced back to horrendously poor passing. I’m not entirely sure whether our atrocious passing was due to a lack of precision, or a lack of communication and mistimed runs. Either way, it seemed as if the Impact were passing the ball to an invisible 12th man somewhere on the pitch or straight towards a San Jose player. Our long passes were even worse. To be completely honest, they looked more like clearances than passes most of the time.

On Saturday, the Impact tried building their attacks from the back, with short passes between defenders and midfielders all the while slowly moving the ball up the pitch. When you attempt to build your attacks this way and your passes are inaccurate, it’s a recipe for disaster. You wind up turning over possession in your own half with most of your defenders out of position to stop an incoming attack.

Furthermore, since we were unable to move the ball up the pitch with short passing and our long balls lacked accuracy, our forwards were starved of the ball. Our front three had very little possession in the offensive half and they were not able to convert on their rare occasions with the ball. Piatti was largely taken out of the game due to a lack of service. If he wanted the ball, he had to drop into the defensive half and take possession himself. Mancosu received the fewest touches of the ball of any player on the pitch and Dominic Oduro was simply not a threat. Without proper service from the midfield, his pace was useless.

The stats from Saturday’s game illustrate our bad passing. We finished the match with a 39% completion rate in the final third, a 17% completion rate on our crosses and a 69% completion rate overall.

Passing Rating: 4/10

That was an embarrassing way to start the season for the Impact. We were dominated for 90 minutes by a team that was among MLS’s bottom dwellers last year. Hopefully Mauro Biello has seen where the Impact struggled and will address those issues prior to the Impact’s home opener. The home opener will be held this Saturday, March 11th at 7pm at the Olympic Stadium. Over 32 000 tickets have already been sold for the match. The Impact will face off versus defending MLS champions Seattle Sounders.