The Impact headed to Washington in desperate need of points. Mauro Biello’s men had only managed a single win in their 8 previous games this season. Biello was clearly not happy with those previous performances so he pushed his players in training and shuffled around his starting 11. It clearly paid off since the Impact escaped the cavernous JFK stadium with a narrow 1-0 road win.
Saturday’s game was truly a tale of two halves: a first half during which the Impact attacked DC, brought the game to their opponents and created dangerous scoring chances and a second half in which the Impact retreated into a defensive shell and DC dominated possession.
Here are my player ratings for the Montreal Impact’s 1-0 win over DC United.
Evan Bush: The Ohio native was not very busy Saturday night, he made the two saves he had to make and was aggressive in his six yard box. However, Bush got lucky when Luciano Acosta’s shot rattled of the crossbar instead of dipping into the net in the 57th minute. Rating: 7.5/10
Ambroise Oyongo: Like usual, the Cameroonian was extremely willing to get involved in the attack but while he was able to get into threatening positions, his final ball into the box was once again poor. To everyone’s great joy, Oyongo decided to also track back and help out defensively this week. Rating 7.5/10
Kyle Fisher: In his second start of the season, the American defender impressed once again. He did not jump off the screen with stunning tackles, but he did exactly what he had to do and most importantly, he avoided costly mistakes. Rating: 8/10
Laurent Ciman: Ciman has come under a great deal of criticism lately for not being enough of a Général. Well, versus DC, Ciman was back to his 2015 self and then some. Ciman bossed around DC’s forwards like a true Général. Take a look at Ciman’s defensive contributions:
You can thank MLS soccer and Opta stats for that chart. To explain, the little triangles represent defensive interventions. The yellow ones are blocks (4), the blue ones are interceptions (8) and the purple ones are clearances (8). Those are simply staggering statistics. Let’s hope Ciman can offer an encore performance next week. Rating: 9.5/10
Chris Duvall: The American fullback was less visible than usual. He got forwards and even managed a shot on target, but we have seen him send in more crosses than he did Saturday. Defensively, he and Daniel Lovitz combined to shut down the left flank of DC’s attack. Rating: 7/10
Hernan Bernardello: Despite the Argentine playing better than he has been of late, I still think Bernardello has more to offer. While Bernardello didn’t commit any glaring turnovers in his own half, his passing still wasn’t up to par. Our holding midfielders are supposed to serve as a link between defence and attack. That link is significantly weakened when Bernardello is only completing 62% of his passes. Rating: 6/10
Adrian Arregui: In the lead up to the game, many were calling on Biello to start Arregui. Biello decided to start the feisty Argentinian midfielder and his decision paid off. Arregui provided a hard working and harder tackling blue collar mentality in front of the Impact’s back line. If Marco Donadel is healthy, I would like to see Arregui start next to him. That would form an impressive hard nosed midfield pairing. Rating: 9/10
Ignacio Piatti: The Argentinian winger had his poorest game of the season on Saturday. It was one of those rare nights when Piatti’s dribbles did not work. Instead of realizing this and deciding to pass, Piatti kept on running at defenders with the same predictable result. On the defensive end of the ball, Piatti showed some poor decision making and coughed up possession deep in the Impact’s half a few too many times. Rating: 6.5/10
Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla: Piatti who? All hail the king Ballou! There is a new dynamic dribbling midfielder in town, and this one is an 18 year old local phenomenon. Ballou was the driving force of our attack on Saturday. It was a huge vote of confidence to start the young rookie in the #10 role but Ballou stepped up to the job. He scored the winning goal with a beautiful piece individual effort that secured three desperately needed road points for the Impact. Rating: 9/10
Daniel Lovitz: I was surprised to see the American start at right wing but by the end of the 90 minutes, he proved that Biello made the right decision in giving him the nod. While he might not have seen much of the ball, he was unselfish when he did get it. With two master dribblers playing to his left, Lovitz realised that what he really needed to do was play the ball towards Ballou and Piatti and that is exactly what he did. On the defensive end, Lovitz’s defender instincts kicked in and he helped neutralize most threats coming down his right side of the pitch. Rating: 7.5/10
Dominic Oduro: Oduro has also been criticized this year for not playing up to the level he was at last year but against DC, the 2016 version of Oduro was once again on display. He did not try anything fancy and instead stuck with what he does best: running. I would have liked to see his teammates try to play the ball into space for Oduro a bit more than they did Saturday. Rating: 7.5/10
Patrice Bernier: Our captain came on in the 69th minute for Arregui. He played next to Bernardello and didn’t have a massive impact on the game. He only completed 4 of 7 passes. Rating: 6.5/10
Callum Mallace: The Scotsman took Bernardello’s place in the 78th minute and was able to calm down the play. He completed all five of his attempted passes and recovered the ball once. Rating: 7.5/10
Anthony Jackson Hamel: Despite coming on in the 84th minute, he was able to make DC United defender Bobby Boswell lose his cool. Not bad for 6 minutes of work.
This was a crucial road win for the Impact. While the 3 points did not send us rocketing up in the standings, it proved that we have what it takes to compete both at home and on the road. Ideally, the Impact would like to follow up that road win with a win a home next week when the Columbus Crew come to town. Let’s see what the Impact can do versus the Crew next Saturday.