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Over the Hump: Impressive Impact Response Falls Just Short - & Player Ratings . . . .

Reflecting Saturday’s defeat in Columbus . . .

MLS: Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew SC
Piatti takes on the Crew defence before converting for Montreal’s first goal.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

“I want to give Montreal a lot of credit for coming back in this game. Piatti’s a guy that historically absolutely kills us. Absolutely kills us and changes the game. Sixtieth minute, they were pressing, but one act of brilliance changes the game. So, give them credit, I think they played well enough today to get a point and we were fortunate in the end to get to get that penalty kick and win the game.”

Even Columbus coach Greg Berhalter felt Montreal deserved a share of the spoils last Saturday in Ohio.

MLS: Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew SC
Berhalter - felt his side were fortunate to take all three points.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

It certainly was a spirited second-half by the Impact, but at the end of the day, when you concede silly penalties, and produce an insipid first forty-five, it becomes difficult to win football matches, especially away from home.

Still there was that comeback. Montreal bossed the second period against a team that looked impressive the previous week in dispatching Toronto in its own backyard.

Take away the horrible defending on the pk’s, the un-Piatti-like shove (frustration?) which conceded the free-kick leading to Crew’s second goal, be awake from the first whistle (of the first-half, not the second), and all of a sudden, you’re in the mix!

Add to that, Montreal hit the woodwork twice, so on another day it could’ve been a quite different result. On another day too, the deficit at half-time could have been greater. Impact was as poor in the first-half, bar the first few minutes sparring, as I’ve seen them. Dis-organized, unsure, nervous as kittens. It was all there. They looked frightened. They looked like they wanted to be anywhere else, but Crew Stadium.

Remi Garde and his staff clearly earned their money at the break. Good-bye Dr Jekyll - Hello Mr Hyde! The coaches will hope the ability to improve during a game is more a sign of things to come, than the dreadful first-half. We all do!

The comeback was stirring, deserved, and led predictably by talisman Piatti, scoring a superb opportunist goal.

In its fourth half of the new season, Crew looked a shadow of the side that had completed the previous three. Strangely, after notching his 50th MLS goal, Federico Higuain, so often their orchestrator-in-chief, was subdued. Probably the least I’ve seen him influence a game ever. Hard to pinpoint the reason, but perhaps Montreal’s midfield deserve credit for this, . . . . in the second-half at least.

Going into the big one with Toronto this weekend, those last 45 mins will have lifted the spirit and optimism of team, fans, and no doubt coach Garde, alike, who insists, points must come along with progress. I’ll leave the last word to him -

“I thought the effort was fantastic. Today, quite a few things went against us and we were a little unlucky because we hit the crossbar twice. We’re progressing, but we need points as of next game.”


Player ratings and comment, as I saw it . . . .

Evan Bush - 6/10 – like last week did nothing wrong and looked confident. Generally, not your day as a goalkeeper, if you have to face not one, but two spot-kicks.

Mike Petrasso - 6/10 – A more comfortable afternoon than he had in Vancouver. Unlucky not to have an assist to his credit, providing the early chance for Vargas which rattled the bar.

Daniel Lovitz - 7/10 – Put in another great shift and becoming the story of the early season. Worked well down the left, and another great cross/assist for Edwards wonderfully executed equalizer.

Jukka Raitala – 5/10 – Yes, he continues to play out of position, taking one for the team, but looks shaky and conceded the first penalty, needlessly.

Victor Cabrera – 6/10 – Did well after the break, when he began to look more assured, after a torrid first-half for his team.

Samuel Piette – 6/10 – Another who did better after the interval, making the interception which led to Piatti’s goal, and generally knitting the play together better.

Jeisson Vargas – 5/10 – Should have scored early on, smashing his volley against the cross-bar. Contribution was light after this, before being replaced by Edwards (66 mins).

MLS: Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew SC
Jeisson Vargas - was the width of the cross-bar away from his first Impact gaol.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Saphir Taider – 6.5/10 – Another energetic performance from the Algerian, who will be a significant asset as he familiarizes himself with new team-mates and surroundings.

Ken Krolicki – 6/10 – More noticeable than in the previous game against Vancouver. Like the rest, improved after the break, displaying great energy and work-rate. Can see why he’s included. Given Garde’s mantra in developing youth, Ken may well be in for a run in the side.

Ignacio Piatti – 7.5/10 – The inspiration. The catalyst. Certainly, it was Piatti who catapulted his team back into the game. It was another of those goals where you wonder how he will score from here. A twist, a turn and a clip with the left foot later, and the ball’s in the net! Piatti’s meanderings in-field had marker Harrison Afful following, leaving all the space in the world behind for Lovitz to exploit. Unsure whether it was Paitti’s idea or Garde’s, but the ploy was highly effective.

Matteo Mancosu – 7/10 – Very unlucky on the day, not have his name on the scoresheet twice. One deft touch from another fine Lovitz cross saw one ball go narrowly wide, and another controlled volley on the turn rattled the cross-bar. On another day, those go in. Best performance for a while.

Subs

Raheem Edwards – 6.5/10 – Entered the fray on 66 mins, and bent his foot beautifully around Lovitz’s well-struck cross to score a quite sumptuous equalizer. Zack Steffen never smelt it! Apart from that, made a lively contribution. Perhaps unlucky on the penalty, but it was a penalty.

MLS: Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew SC
Raheem Edwards celebrating his delicious strike that levelled the scores.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports