LAFC came to Montreal for the first time ever in their MLS tenure on Saturday afternoon, with le Général making his return to Stade Saputo. The fans were treated to an entertaining match with ups and downs for both teams, setbacks and comebacks, and truly 90 minutes worthy of a Hollywood movie.
The first half started with the Bleu Blanc Noir on the front foot, attacking and creating solid chances. Lovitz put the ball in the back of the net in the 4th minute, but the goal was rightly called off for offside. The Impact kept pushing and the goal came in the 9th minute, when Piatti capitalised on a poor punch by the LAFC keeper. A few minutes later, Piatti completely erased the LAFC defensive line, and then forced the keeper into conceding a penalty. A low left shot, and the scoreboard read 2-0. On the 24th minute, none other than Laurent Ciman, who had never scored a free-kick in his three years in Montreal, hammered it in from the set piece. The fans at Stade Saputo clapped and cheered, and showed their respect for le Général.
But the first half action wasn’t over yet. Cabrera pulled down Marco Ureña in the box, and the LAFC was awarded a penalty kick, while Cabrera earned himself a sending off. Although Cabrera has been in poor form lately, and the penalty kick was justly given, that was a debatable red card. Ureña stepped up to take the spot kick, but Bush came up HUGE and made the save. A few minutes later, he made another best-of-the-week candidate save as he denied Carlos Vela from point blank. Even crazier, the Impact seemed to have figured out how to play with a man down, and scored a 3rd goal in the final minutes of the half, rounding off a Piatti hat-trick. The whistle came, the players were tired and even the fans were out of breath!
Just as the first half was all Impact, the second half was all LAFC. The Impact played bravely but LAFC’s front three were just too much for a 10-man Impact. They scored four unanswered goals, and the game finished 5-3 for LAFC. It’s unfortunate, but the Impact continue their slump with a 3rd loss in a row. The stat sheet for the last three games reads: 12 goals conceded, 4 goals scored. This game showed some improvement on the offensive side, but the defense remains a huge problem.
Now, here are the three Virtuosos of Saturday’s game!
Virtuoso #1: Evan Bush
Evan Bush came up big once again for the Impact, and hopefully one day his heroics will turn into points for Montreal. He saved one penalty and very nearly saved another, made two other saves worthy of a best-of-the-week nomination, one of which should be up for save-of-the-season. 14 saves in the game earned him a whopping 8.8 match rating, but also shows how much he’s had to do with the Impact’s defense looking like swiss cheese.
Virtuoso #2: Ignacio Piatti
Piatti treated the fans to a superb first-half hat-trick. He was a handful and a half for the LAFC defense and they had to rely on fouls more often than not to stop him. Like Bush, it’s unfortunate that his first half heroics did not end up with Montreal getting the three points, but his performance once again confirms the Argentine’s ranking as one of the best players, and definitely the best dribbler, in the MLS.
Virtuoso #3: Samuel Piette
Now, Samuel Piette’s performance was not at the level of the two players previously mentioned. However, I selected him for this list because I saw a lot of improvement in his play this game. He played his usual rough style, breaking down plays and frustrating opponent players. However, this game he showed a lot more composure on the ball, and played safer passes to avoid turning over possession. Piette isn’t tasked with being the creator, so I much prefer him playing safe balls and holding possession than attempting, and failing, at threading forward balls.
All stats courtesy of SofaScore.
Who do you think were the top performers? What did you think of the game? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, Allez Montréal!