After a big win at home against rivals Toronto FC and an international break that let Impact fans ride the wave of the big win, the Impact headed to Seattle. The match up against the 2016 MLS Cup Champions and 2017 runner ups was going to be a tactical test as Seattle always manages to be a strong opponent. Seattle was missing a few key players in their lineup due to injuries and a suspension including Alonso, Morris and Dempsey.
The first half was a positive one for the Impact. Nacho Piatti had a golden opportunity at his feet in the 12th minute where he managed to get a clear view of the net in the box, but he made one move too many giving the time for Chad Marshall to get in front of his shot. Shortly after that, the Impact got a free kick at the top of the 18 yard box. Jeisson Vargas took a solid shot over the wall, but keeper Stefan Frei managed to get a touch on it; this moment was a motivating one for the Impact as they have not had a free kick threat in a long time.
The chippy first half got a little more intense towards the end of the half. Daniel Lovitz jumped up to attempt to get a header on a ball while Kelvin Leeram didn't but pushed him in the back causing Lovitz too fall hard. Lovitz approached Leeram and shoved him. The referee, Ismail Elfath , called for a video review of the play where he deemed Leeram deserved a red card on the play. It was confusing to see why Leeram had gotten a red on the play but after review it can clearly be seen that Leeram slapped Lovitz in the face. No matter if the slap was soft or not or even if Leeram was provoked by Lovitz, the rule is clear a player cannot touch an opposing players face.
This is the incident for which Leerdam was sent off pic.twitter.com/byh6JlVPFX— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) April 1, 2018
Coming back into the second half, everyone was hoping the Impact could take advantage of being a man up. Which they managed to do well in the first fifteen minutes. In the 60th Saphir Taider went deep into the zone in an attempt to intercept the ball from the Seattle defence. He manged to do so and with a nice back heel was able to get the ball to Piatti. Piatti dribbled through a few players and easily distributed the ball to Vargas who was almost alone and just tapped the ball into the net.
A big issue the Impact had last season and one that seem to be an issue during the game on Saturday night in Seattle, was sitting back with the lead. After the goal, even a man up, the Impact sat back and allowed Seattle to build up momentum. They allowed them to create a few opportunities but luckily for them, the defensive line alongside of Evan Bush, were solid and managed to keep the advantage. If Seattle was a little more deadly in the final third it may have been a different outcome.
The Impact may have walked away with the win in Seattle but they did not seem as determined as they did in their prior games. The Impact, a man up, should have been able to make more of the match up. They should be happy of the results, understandably, as they did the work to get the win, but should not be satisfied because performances like such are not what make a championship team.
- Seizing An Opportunity: Petrasso suffered a minor injury during international duty with Canada, Due to this injury, Chris Duvall, the next man up, was put into the lineup as a replacement. This being the first minutes Chris Duvall got this season, it was a golden opportunity to prove to Rémi Garde he deserved his spot in the lineup. Chris Duvall may have done the opposite though. The formation is not the best fit for Duvall and he seem to struggle quite a few times; losing the ball due to poor distribution or poor timing in his tackles. Duvall has never been the superstar player but he works extremely hard and does what he needs to do on the pitch. Last season, most were satisfied of the work Duvall did because he got the job done but on Saturday's game he seem to fall short of success and it would not be surprising to see Petrasso back in the lineup Friday if he's healthy.
- Rookie Doing Well: Ken Krolicki, is hard working and manage to win many fouls on Saturday but with the arrival of Alejandro Silva he will likely be where he should be, on the bench as a depth player. If the Impact want to be a contender Silva is the piece they will need; someone who can spark the offence. Krolicki is able to make good interceptions and tackles but lacks in distribution. In the MLS games he has under his belt thus far, there was a few instances where he could have made a pass forward and launched the Impact on a scoring opportunity but went for the safe bet and passed backwards. It is possible that Krolicki will be a good player for the club, but his lack of experience is evident at times on the pitch.
- Unexpected Hero: When Laurent Ciman was traded a lot of questions were raised as to who would replace him. The Impact signed Zakaria Diallo to fill the role but he was injured in the week prior to the first game. Rod Fanni was then signed and in his two MLS games he has shown to be a great pick up for the Impact. All this being said, the man of the defense on Saturday was undoubtedly Victor Cabrera. Cabrera had 6 tackles, 9 interceptions, 14 clearances and 8 recoveries which are incredible numbers. Not only was he outstanding in this game but Cabrera is the leader in tackles, interceptions and clearances this season in the MLS. Many are critical of Cabrera but up to now this season he has been a solid player and proved why he deserves to be in the starting 11.
MTL – G-Evan Bush; D-Chris Duvall, Víctor Cabrera, Rod Fanni, Jukka Raitala, Daniel Lovitz; M-Samuel Piette, Saphir Taïder, Ken Krolicki (Alejandro Silva 81’); A-Ignacio Piatti, Jeisson Vargas (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 72’)
Unused substitutes – Clément Diop, Rudy Camacho, Louis Béland-Goyette, Dominic Oduro, Raheem Edwards
SEA – G-Stefan Frei; D-Chad Marshall, Kelvin Leerdam, Román Torres, Waylon Francis (Nouhou Tolo 84’); M-Cristian Roldan, Gustav Svensson, Handwalla Bwana (Alex Roldan 74’), Magnus Wolff Eikrem (Jordan McCrary 46’), Nicolás Lodeiro; A-Will Bruin
Unused substitutes – Bryan Meredith, Harry Shipp, Jordy Delem, Lamar Neagle
MTL – Vargas (Piatti) 60’
MTL – Lovitz 41’
MTL – Krolicki 48’
SEA – Torres 71’
MTL – Piette 83’
SEA – Leerdam 40’