Ignacio Piatti is the best player on the Montreal Impact squad and arguably the best player that has ever worn the Bleu-Blanc-Noir kit (Drogba is an exception) throughout the history of the club.
His absence, due to a groin injury, has had an immediate negative effect on the club as it still stands winless in the 2017 MLS campaign.
But his absence has not been a total disaster.
The timid rise of Ballou
Initially, Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla was going to compete with Dominic Oduro for a starting position on the wing, more likely coming off the bench to replace the Ghanaian winger.
But Piatti’s injury has propelled the young winger to the starting XI, much earlier than expected.
His goal against the Chicago Fire was symbolic of his generous efforts throughout the game, while enjoying some horrible goalkeeping from Fire keeper Baba.
Still, his run and 1v1 skills got him to that important position to actually take the shot.
His game has continued to evolve against the LA Galaxy and was gaining more and more confidence. The first-half red card to Marco Donadel killed the Impact’s decent mojo against the Galaxy and Ballou's.
Overrated Piatti dependence
Still winless in MLS, one might think that I am losing my mind when I talk about an overrated Piatti dependence. Describing Nacho’s influence on the Impact’s game, as overrated, is mostly false I admit.
But the team has found other ways to find the necessary ressources and opportunities to compete at a decent level, especially with a midfield not naturally geared towards the offensive side of things.
A 2-2 tie against the Chicago Fire and the unjust 2-0 loss to an (tad) overrated LA Galaxy team (outside an obvious potent offensive mentality) showed that the team can temporarily survive.
Underrated Piatti dependence
Well yes. Piatti is the key to the Impact’s success and for the club to have any kind of (above average) success, he needs to have a MVP type of year, like in 2016.
Positioned as winger, Piatti is much more than that. His goal scoring abilities basically put him as a second striker (aka not a classical #9 or pivot striker depending on your preferences). His role for Biello’s vision has overshadowed the need for more offense, something that the club will need to address during the next transfer market window(s).
Piatti’s status against the new kids on the block, Atlanta United, is still unsure, He was slotted to be available to play against his compatriot Tata Martino, the ex-Argentina National Team and FC Barcelona coach.
Until then, it is a race against the clock for Nacho to recover on time to play the official home opener of the club at Stade Saputo. But most importantly, the Montreal Impact will need him to be healthy and sharp for the bulk of the season.