The Montreal Impact met the New England Revolution on Friday night, in their first match of the season which did not feature a certain Ignacio Piatti. It was without a doubt the worst performance by the team this season, as they completely forgot the smart passing and solid defending they had been showing previously. The only thing worse than the Impact’s performance was the attendance at the Gillette Stadium. And VAR, but more on that later.
The team actually started the game on the right foot, holding the ball well enough and controlling the play. Unfortunately, this all ended when Saphir Taïder was shown a straight red in the 14th minute after he attempts to roll over the ball, fails, and then hits the Rev’s Luis Caicedo on the shin. This call was very controversial, and whether it was right or not (it wasn’t), it completely changed the game.
From that point on, the Impact were disorganized and lost balls very cheaply. They were able to create very few opportunities, but never capitalized on them. New England did the opposite, scoring four past Bush and walking away with a dominating victory. In the end, there is nothing the players can do about this game, but hopefully they will review it, learn from their mistakes and never put us through such a match again this season!
Although the whole team played below par, here are this match week’s Three Virtuosos:
Virtuoso #1: Evan Bush
Although he let in four goals in the game, there isn’t much more he could have done. Bush made key saves at very key moments, and his penalty save earns him a spot on the list. The Impact were down a goal when two very ridiculous fouls gave the Revolution a spot kick. After about 6 minutes of useless VAR review, Bush pulled off a massive save to keep his team in the game. Unfortunately, the save did not shift the momentum the Impact’s way, and they conceded a second before half-time.
Virtuoso #2: Rod Fanni
Rod Fanni is a leader, that we already know. He is vocal, he gesticulates, he is calm on the ball and he has an imposing presence in the back line. This game, however, I discovered a new aspect of his leadership qualities. Rod does not only lead vocally, he also leads his teammates through his game. He does not pass the ball to a player. He passes the ball into the space he wants his teammate to go occupy. He’s able to analyse his teammate’s situation, while staying calm enough to hold the ball and dribble until he finds a teammate who will not be under pressure once they receive the ball. This skill and vision is testament to the player’s experience and understanding of the game.
Virtuoso #3: Alejandro Silva
The new boy started this game as the right full-back in what is effectively a 5-3-2 formation. He didn’t have a great game, especially since his position did not allow him to play to his strengths. Silva showed glimpses of what he will offer the Impact, with his quick feet and impressive ball control. The Uruguayan did not seem to be as inclined to hold the ball and dribble many players like his teammate Piatti, but then again that’s probably due to the fact his primary job was in defense. Still, if he plays further up the field in a game where the team collectively plays better, we will see a much more effective player.
Dishonorable Mention: VAR
The red card on Saphir Taïder did not seem to get reviewed, yet it is the call that arguably changed the entire match. Replays show the Algerian attempt a skill move, missing, and then hitting Caicedo on the shin, studs pointing down towards his extended leg. No ill-intent, no extensive force used, only unfortunate timing and foot placing. This falls perfectly under the definition of a yellow card, and no where near a red card. A sending off is reserved for a player who tackles without any regards to the opponent’s safety. Accidents happen in a contact sport, and this one did not warrant a sending off. And yet it was not reviewed.
Then, two fouls in the same play were committed inside the 18-yard box, a penalty call that anyone in the world could spot, was reviewed for six (6) full minutes. For what? To confirm what everyone already knew? It was absolutely useless, time consuming and interrupted the flow of the match. Truly, the MLS needs to figure something out with this horrendous refereeing and atrocious VAR.
Oh well, that’s all for today. Who do you think were the top performers? And what are your opinions on VAR? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, Allez Montréal!