On Saturday night, the Montreal Impact visited the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field, arguably one of the best stadiums in the MLS. It was the Impact’s second match in a row against a 2017 MLS Cup finalist, and although the Sounders were missing a few key players through injury or suspension, it was always going to be a tough away game.
The Bleu Blanc Noir started the game quite well, and proved to be the more creative and more disciplined team in the first half. They had some decent chances on goal and controlled the tempo of the game. An immature reaction from Seattle’s full-back Kelvin Leerdam then put the Impact a man up, but the half-time whistle came and the score was still tied at nil.
However, it turned out to be truly a tale of two halves. Playing a man up, the Montreal Impact never seemed to take a hold of the game. Although they got a goal thanks to some relentless work from Taïder, a typical Piatti dribble and a clinical finish from Vargas, the Sounders still enjoyed most of the ball, and created many opportunities to tie the match. Les Montréalais sat back after the goal and looked to be running out of gas, which makes Garde’s decision not to use all three of his substitutions a bit worrisome. It almost seems like he didn’t trust his bench to finish off the match, similarly to when they played Columbus.
This game, the team performed as a unit and I did not find any player had a particularly great match. Still, here are this week’s Virtuosos!
Virtuoso #1: Jeisson Vargas
Vargas scored his second goal of the season on Saturday, again assisted by none other than Ignacio Piatti. This partnership up front is turning out to be quite interesting indeed. Although the Uruguayan did not have as much influence on the game as expected, this is the second match in a row that Vargas scores the lone goal in a 1-0 win.
On top of that, his free-kick around the 20th minute mark was a thing of beauty. A curling shot over the wall that dipped ferociously towards goal, unfortunately well saved by Stefan Frei. However, the reason this unscored free-kick is so exciting is because the Montreal Impact have not been dangerous on a dead ball ever since the departure of Didier Drogba. Now, it seems, the team has finally found a designated free-kick taker who will actually test goalkeepers.
Virtuoso #2: Evan Bush
A second clean sheet for the American keeper this season, and both coming against last year’s MLS Cup finalists, is a great confidence booster for Bush and the whole team. He played a very solid game and really saved the Impact in the dying minutes when the Sounders went all-in for the equaliser. He still has some work to do with his distribution, but he showed once again that he is a top notch shot-stopper.
Credits to Joël Bats though, as he has really turned around the goalkeeping situation in Montreal. Bush has grown in confidence tremendously and has been commanding his box much more convincingly ever since the arrival of the French goalkeeping coach.
Virtuoso #3: Victor Cabrera
Victor Cabrera is probably one of the least appreciated players on the Impact’s roster. And although I agree with a lot of the criticism targeted at him, I just don’t believe he is that bad of a player. Some of you have mentioned that statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, as they are void of any context. However, it is impossible for me to accept that a player who always has unbelievably great game stats can be such a poor player. Now some blunders in defense don’t turn up on the stats sheet, but I haven’t seen so many of them from Cabrera, especially not during the Seattle game.
Cabrera raked up an impressive nine (!) interceptions and thirteen (!!) clearances over the 95 minutes he played. That’s three more interceptions and only one less clearance than Daniel Lovitz, Jukka Raitala, Rod Fanni and Chris Duvall combined, which is simply astounding. If that doesn’t say much, then I don’t know what will.
In the end, the Impact got three points out of a tough away match. Hopefully they keep improving and the next wins come in a more convincing fashion.
All stats courtesy of SofaScore.
Who do you think were the top performers? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, Allez Montréal!