Wow! That was an … interesting game on the part of our Montreal Impact. It was clear that the Impact took to the pitch with the mindset that they did not need to give their 100% to win. The Union refused to roll over and took advantage of the Impact’s lackluster start by jumping out to an early lead thanks to a goal by Roland Alberg in the 5th minute. Sadly, even that early goal did not wake-up the Impact. The Union continued to press and the Impact quickly found themselves down by three. After going down by three to the worst team in the league, the Impact realised that they were not in Philadelphia for the sandwiches but rather to play soccer. And play soccer they did.
Piatti led the charge, scoring a beautiful solo goal in the 41st minute to narrow the gap to two. It was then Anthony Jackson-Hamel’s turn to shine. The academy product netted a brace, scoring in the 69th and 87th minute after coming off the bench in the 62nd minute. The Impact rallied from behind for a dramatic and entertaining 3-3 draw in Philadelphia.
As thrilling as the comeback was, the Montreal Impact should never have gone down by three in the first place. The opening 41 minutes were some of the poorest football I have ever seen IMFC play. No one had any drive. Our forwards did not chase down any loose balls or press the Union’s midfielders. Our midfielders failed to close down the ball carrier in our own third, giving him all the time in the world to pick apart our lines. Our defenders just reacted to what Philly did instead of anticipating and being a step ahead of their opponents. Oh, and I forgot to mention that we lost just about every single aerial battle.
Here are my player ratings for the Montreal Impact’s 3-3 draw versus the Philadelphia union:
Evan Bush: The Ohio native knows that he should have stopped that penalty in the 39th minute. He got both hands on the shot and should have been able to push it wide of the net or catch it. I would also have liked to see Bush being more aggressive on his challenges for aerial balls in his box. Other than that, Bush was solid. He could not have done much on either of the Union’s other goals and he made a crucial save late into the 2nd half to give his teammates a chance at a draw. Rating: 6.5/10
Ambroise Oyongo: Oyongo, like the rest of his teammates had an extremely poor first half. However, he made up for it in the 2nd half. Last week, I criticized his crosses. Clearly, he heard me. This week, his crosses were crisp and perfectly placed. It was one of those magnificent crosses that Hamel headed in for a goal in the 69th minute. Rating: 7/10
Laurent Ciman: In the 5th minute, Ciman’s diving tackle was calmly side-stepped for the Union’s first goal. On Saturday, Le Général was not as energetic as he usually is and he spent a good deal of what energy he did have yelling at his teammates. It would have been nice to see that energy used for running. Rating: 5.5/10
Hassoun Camara: The lanky Frenchman was caught out of position on the first goal and was ball watching on the 2nd instead of covering his man. He gravitated towards the ball and left the dangerous C. J. Sapong alone for the easy tap in goal. During the little defending that had to be done during the second 45 minutes, Camara was solid. Rating: 5/10
Chris Duvall: The American was not his usual self Saturday. He failed to link up with Oduro down the right flank and created very little going forwards. To make up for his offensive shortcomings, Duvall defended well and limited the Union’s chances originating from his right flank. On the down side, he was also caught between two worlds on the Union’s 2nd goal. Rating: 6.5/10
Marco Donadel: The Italian had an extremely poor first half. He never advanced towards the Union’s players. He kept on backing up and giving then more and more room in the Impact’s half. It was very uncharacteristic from the 34 year old. He found his rhythm in the 2nd half when the Impact had their foot on the ball. Rating: 5.5/10
Hernan Bernardello: The Argentinian exemplified the Impact’s first half woes. His challenges were sloppy and ineffective. Like Donadel, he lacked energy and awarded the Union’s forwards much too much time and space on the ball. Finally, his passes were inaccurate and just as often found a Union player as an Impact player. Thankfully, he was subbed off after 45 minutes. Rating: 3/10
Ignacio Piatti: Nacho was just about invisible until he scored a brilliant solo goal in the 41st minute. In the 2nd half, he was more hesitant than we have come to expect from the former San Lorenzo man and did not have his usual impact on the game. Rating: 6.5/10
Patrice Bernier: Our captain also had a hard time in the first half. He saw very little of the ball and did not have the same influence on the match as usual. Furthermore, his passing was not as impressive as it has been in the past weeks. In the 2nd half, he dropped into a deeper position from where he was able to dictate the Impact’s possession and he had a much greater impact on the game. Rating: 6.5/10
Dominic Oduro: Oduro was a ghost of his 2016 self. Both in the sense that his level of play has dropped and he was like an actual ghost: invisible. Oduro did not utilize the only arrow in his quiver: his pace. He failed to combine with his fullback and even when his teammates set him up with a golden opportunity, he wasted them by completely missing his shot. After 62 utterly disappointing minutes, he was replaced by an actual difference maker: Anthony Jackson-Hamel. Rating: 3/10 (is 2 too harsh?)
Matteo Mancosu: The Italian striker fell victim to his teammates lack of vigor in the 1st half. The Impact let Philly play in their half and did not feed their lone striker. Mancosu cannot do much if his teammates do not sent balls his way. I was pleasantly surprised to see how Mancosu played in the final 45 minutes though: he adapted to the possession style the Impact were trying to play and circulated the ball instead of always looking to run behind defenders. It was a nice change from last week when Mancosu failed to adapt. Rating: 7/10
Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla: Why Ballou did not start baffles me. From the moment he entered the game, he was a difference maker. He took on defenders and drove the ball into the opposition’s half. He also tracked back and helped out defensively like a true veteran despite only being 18 years old. Rating: 8.5/10
Anthony Jackson-Hamel: Twice in a row now, the academy product has come on and saved points for the Impact. This week, he proved that he can also score brilliant goals with his head. Like a true striker, he was in the right place at the right time to pop in the tying goal in the 87th minute. Hamel is now the Impact’s leading goal scorer. Is it time to give the Quebec native a start? I definitely think so. Rating: 9/10
Kyle Fisher: Fisher came on in the 92nd minute for the injured Hassoun Camara. Rating: not enough playing time to judge.
That was really a game of two very different halves. A first half during which the Impact let the Union dominate and a 2nd half during which the Union took their foot off the gas and let the Impact claw their way back to a 3-3 draw. Hopefully the Impact have learned that they cannot underestimate any team in this league. I hope that they will not repeat the same mistake during next week’s game. That next game happens to be versus the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday April 29th at Saputo Stadium.