Impact and Orlando split the points, while Nacho and Blerim begin gaining some momentum. The Impact continued with the five back formation against a determined Orlando coming off a midweek defeat to NASL team, Miami FC.
From the very beginning of the game it seemed as if the Impact would be defending a lot. The first goal, which came in the 8th minute, would have been a perfect review situation. It was clear that the ball had crossed the backline but both referee Chris Penso and his assistant did not make the call. While it was disappointing that this call was not made, the fact that the Impact stopped playing altogether hurt them even more. The situation could have gone differently if the players would have continued. At a very young age, we are told to keep playing until the whistle.
The Impact replied extremely quickly only 8 minutes later when Piatti made Orlando defenders look foolish. Following his dance around the defense he passed to Blerim at the top of the box who struck a perfect bottom corner shot on the short side of Bendik.,
Before the end of the half, Impact defenders once again reacted poorly to the attack set up by Orlando. A cross came in and Pérez Garcia was left alone to bring down the ball and make a short pass to the top of the box. Johnson’s initial shot deflected off of Bush and Ciman stopped it at the line. Bush never got back up and the Impact defenders did not react quickly enough to the rebound. Rivas with an almost empty net did not miss.
The Impact although came out with a little bit of a different attitude at the half. Seizing their opportunities fully, Mancosu, Blerim and Piatti combined for a gorgeous sequence which ended with Piatti scoring between the legs (an uncommon feature in soccer) of Bendik from the center of the box. The Nacho show was not over as a minute later Mancosu gave Piatti a great pass who took a shot. His original shot was blocked by Bendik but his players tripped over each and fell on him releasing the ball; Nacho then seized the opportunity by putting the ball in the empty net.
In the 77th minute, Camara had a golden opportunity alone in front of Bendik but was unable to capitalize, even on the rebound. One thing to mention is that there may have been a case for a handball from Orlando defenders inside the box on the sequence, but it passed extremely incognito.
In the final minutes, the Impact was trying to maintain their lead. With 6 minutes of extra time, they were in for a lot more work pass the 90. With two minutes to spare after a few corners the Impact thought they had a goal kick, as the lineswoman was calling but Penso, that can overturn his assistants’ decisions, decided for another corner. The Impact barely moved on the sequence and Spector placed his header from the first post very well into the net on the far side. Camara, who was on the line below the ball, or Bush did not make much of an attempt to save the ball.
Overall the Impact struggled defensively and conceding on a set play, a reoccurring story in their book. Furthermore, Penso and his team did not help the situation but the Impact knows this story as well and should have played through it. The choice of formation still needs development as it hasn’t been a success and every point counts for the Impact. The players, staff, and fans felt that the Impact should have left Orlando with 3 points; hopefully, this situation does not come and bite them in the butt at the end of the season.
· Chris Penso unfortunate influence: The MLS has a reputation for their questionable referees. Chris Penso and his team were a perfect example. A clear out of bounds ball on the first goal and him deciding to give the corner to Orlando instead a goal kick to the Impact even after the lines woman was insisting on the goal kick.
· Bromance Alert: Blerim and Nacho continue to impress: Both had a huge influence on all three goals. Piatti recorded 2 goals and 1 assist while Blerim had 1 goal and 1 assist. The developing relationship is a joy to watch and luckily they were there to carry the offense.
· New formation: Considering the Impact’s lineup consisted of 5 defenders it would be expected for them to control Orlando’s offense which unfortunately was not the case. Looking somewhat unstable and the wingbacks were unable to produce real offensive opportunities. If Mauro wants to continue to use this formation some real adjustments must be made.
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Daniel Lovitz, Kyle Fisher, Laurent Ciman, Victor Cabrera, Hassoun Camara; M-Marco Donadel, Blerim Dzemaili (Calum Mallace 89’), Patrice Bernier (Hernan Bernardello 62’); F-Ignacio Piatti, Matteo Mancosu (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 72’)
Subs not used: Maxime Crépeau, Andrés Romero, Michael Salazar, Dominic Oduro
ORL – GK-Joe Bendik; D-Scott Sutter, Jonathan Spector, José Aja (Tommy Redding 72’), Donny Toia; M-Matias Pérez Garcia, Will Johnson (Luis Gil 88’), Christian Higuita, Kaká; F-Giles Barnes, Carlos Rivas
Subs not used: Josh Saunders, Servando Carrasco, Richie Laryea, Victor Pagliari Giro, Hadji Barry
ORL - Matias Pérez Garcia (Kaká) 8’
MTL – Blerim Dzemaili (Piatti) 16’
ORL – Carlos Rivas 23’
MTL – Ignacio Piatti (Blerim Dzemaili) 58’
MTL – Ignacio Piatti 59’
ORL – Jonathan Spector (Matias Pérez Garcia) 90’ + 4’
MTL – Laurent Ciman 18’
MTL – Blerim Dzemaili 45’ + 2’
MTL – Daniel Lovitz 52’
ORL – José Aja 60’
ORL – Matias Pérez Garcia 89’