Some may argue that Toronto played midweek in Mexico others may point fingers at the poor conditions of the Olympic stadium but it should not shadow what Garde managed to do on Saturday.
Toronto has been praised in reference to their squad depth and if this was the case they should not able to argue fatigue as a factor. As for the argument of the poor field conditions, the argument is getting a little old. Yes the Olympic stadium does not present the best conditions, but this goes for both teams. We saw the difficulty it added for both goalkeepers in predicting the bounces and where to place themselves to receive them.
Now, enough excuses and let’s give credit where credit is due. We saw the Impact employ what looked to be a 3-5-2 on Saturday with Victor Cabrera - Rod Fanni - Jukka Raitala as the backline, Michael Petrasso - Saphir Taider - Samuel Piette - Ken Krolicki - Daniel Lovitz in the middle and finally Nacho Piatti - Jeisson Vargas up front. It was evident that certain players had assignments Piette always had Michael Bradley covered and Fanni kept his eye on Jozy Altidore; just as importantly Taider was a defensive soldier and Sebastian Giovinco was never given the space he wanted by anyone from the Impact.
Other than lineup and assignment essentials, Garde made his men apply pressure on Toronto FC forcing Bradley to drop back into a more defensive role consequently Giovinco had to fall back to help the play creation. Let’s be honest for a second here, any moment Giovinco is far from the net is a good moment as it makes the lives of the opponent easier.
Another masterclass moment, the use of the substitutions. Krolicki did not have his best outing on Saturday which was made more evident by the performances being put up by the players around him (Taider and Piette). Getting a yellow early in the game, Garde took him off the pitch in the sixty-sixth minute for Louis Béland-Goyette. Another important change, that fans may have wished to see a week earlier against Columbus was when Garde brought on veteran midfielder Donadel at the eighty-fourth minute. Toronto FC were imposing their rhythm a little more towards the end of the game and this change broke the tempo momentarily and provided the Impact with one more defensive presence to conserve their lead.
Overall, I truly believe that we have only seen the beginning of the masterclass that is Rémi Garde and Impact fans should be very optimistic after the performance the team put up this weekend.
Simply put, the Impact seem to want this win more than Toronto and their resilience and fight is something IMFC fans should become accustomed to.