After having suffered a 2-1 deficit on the away leg of this match-up, the Montreal Impact come home hungry for a better performance. Given the lineup, it was made extremely clear very early on the intentions of Mauro Biello and his team; they wanted to win. The ambiance of the stadium was quite spectacular considering only a little over 15,000 dedicated fans were present.
From the very beginning of the game, in comparison to the away leg, the Montreal Impact had much more control on the ball. This was made evident when Dzemaili made a gorgeous pass in between Vancouver defenders leaving Jackson-Hamel alone in front of the keeper, Richey. Jackson-Hamel’s first touch was a little heavy leaving him to chase the ball, but he managed to get just past the keeper who then tripped Jackson up. Without any hesitation, the referee pointed to the spot. Piatti converted the penalty with a strike to the bottom left corner. Less than 8 minutes later, the Impact was awarded a free kick just outside the box. Ciman made a short pass to the left of the wall, Piatti received the pass inside the box and was brought down. Once again, the referee pointed to spot. Piatti going the opposite way converted his second penalty of the game. Right before the half Dzemaili scored the third goal of the Impact. Oyongo made a ground cross and the Vancouver defender made a bad clearance which landed at the feet of Dzemaili who took a hard shot into the net.
Going into the half with a 3-0 was extremely promising for the Impact, but they were aware that Vancouver would come out stronger in the second half. Very early on Le Général, Ciman, made an important stop with his head off a shot from the edge of the box. Alphonso Davies, the 16-year-old, had come on at the half and was causing all kinds of problems for the Impact. This control he had led him to score the first Whitecaps goal from the top of the box. Minutes later Bernier crossed the ball in and it hit defender, Tim Parker, who accidentally sent it backwards to Jackson-Hamel; he controlled the ball with his chest before striking the ball into the net. The Whitecaps would score another with a little over ten minutes to spare, a header off a cross but it wasn’t enough to surpass the Impact.
The Impact won 5-4 on aggregate and will need to wait until Toronto and Ottawa face off Wednesday, May 31st 7 pm EST to see their next opponent. The Impact did put up an impressive performance but will need to make adjustments as they did need to fight off the Whitecaps in the final 10 minutes. With a promising first half and still very commendable second they should have had this game sealed off, instead, they had a few stressful moments towards the end.
· Possession Over Counter: The Impact has been called a counter team for years although this is no longer the philosophy of the team. In the two dominant wins we have seen (vs Portland and vs Vancouver) the Impact kept possession and built up plays. The introduction of Dzemaili might be to factor in this change but the Impact seems to be developing a new and successful identity.
· Have the Impact Found their Striker?: Jackson-Hamel uses his size and creates chances. He could have likely had a few more goals during the game because of his strength to get past the defenders. With Mancosu on the brink of returning to the lineup, Biello will have a fun but yet still difficult problem to deal with.
· Piatti Penalty Percentage: Piatti converted not one but two penalties during the game which is difficult to do because the goalie can have an idea of the way you line up to kick. His placement on penalty shots is stellar which has led him to have a 93% completion rate.
* Honorable mention: The Whitecaps keeper Spencer Richey, although he conceded four goals (two on penalties) deserves a lot of merit. He kept his team in the game making some incredible saves that left players and fans stunned. He is likely to give David Ousted a run for his money in the near future.
MTL – GK-Maxime Crépeau; D-Ambroise Oyongo, Kyle Fisher, Laurent Ciman, Chris Duvall; M-Patrice Bernier (Adrian Arregui, 72’), Marco Donadel, Blerim Dzemaili (Daniel Lovitz, 85’); F-Ignacio Piatti, Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Nick DePuy, 76’), Dominic Oduro,
Subs not used: Evan Bush, Hassoun Camara, Victor Cabrera, David Choinière.
VAN – GK-Spencer Richey; D-Marcel de Jong, Tim Parker, Cole Seiler, Jakob Nerwinski; M-Brek Shea, Russell Teibert, Nicolas Mezquida (Alphonso Davies, HF), Ben McKendry (Cristian Techera, 68’), Mauro Rosales (Marco Bustos, 85’); F-Kyle Greig
Subs not used: Sean Melvin, Sem de Wit, David Norman, Gloire Amanda.
MTL – Piatti (PK) 20’
MTL – Piatti (PK) 28’
MTL –Dzemaili 38’
VAN –Davies 59’
MTL – Jackson-Hamel 61’
VAN – Greig (Techera) 77’
VAN – Richey 19’
MTL – Donadel 43’
MTL – Duvall 80’
MTL – Ciman 90+3’