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Recap: #ATLUTD vs #IMFC

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If only games were 70 minutes long...

MLS: Montreal Impact at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the half I may have gotten ahead of myself and envisioned myself writing an article on how being structured and opportunistic allowed to Impact to be successful. If anything this belief could have even been true if the game was only 70 minutes long but unfortunately reality showed up and the Impact suffered again in an end of match crumble.

Early on, Atlanta showed the threat they would be all game long when Josef Martinez got two good chances on net back to back. Evan Bush, who has had many heroic moments in the past few weeks, came up big again with two important saves in the 8th minute.

Just a few minutes later, the Impact managed to seize an opportunity when Duvall created space for himself and managed to get a nice cross into the box. Taider got a powerful header off the cross into the back of the net putting the Impact in front early into the away game.

Going into the half the Impact continued to defend well and showed a structure to their movement making it difficult for their talented opponents to tie up the game. They forced the play to the outside and manage to even create a few opportunities.

The second half started in a very similar fashion but the Impact, as time went, seem to be struggling to hold their defensive structure. Atlanta was building up the chances, and rather it was a streak of unlucky plays or lack of accuracy or even a mix of both it took a while for them to get on the board.

In the 69th minute, Duvall jumped up to defend a header but in his movement the ball hit his arm in the box leading to another penalty against for the Impact. Almiron’s shot was almost saved by Bush but it squeezed right under him and went in.

In the 78th minute, a free kick was awarded to Atlanta after referee, Hilario Grajeda, judged that Taider had touched the ball with his hand. While the play was questionable as it did not seem to touch Taider’s arm (judge for yourself in the image below). Atlanta seized their opportunity and scored a similar free-kick to the one we saw last week by Ciman.

MLS: Montreal Impact at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With a little over ten minutes left the Impact went all out to try to tie up the game but this led to a counter attack that definitely favored Atlanta and their talented attackers. Almiron got his second of the night with a well placed shot after a cheeky pass from Martinez. Duvall was not happy on the play as he felt their was a chance for an offside.

In the dying minutes of the game, Atlanta was awarded another free kick in almost the exact same position as the first. For a second time, Kratz took a well positioned shot leaving Bush looking at the ball as it hit the post and went in.

The Impact were not expected to win this game but after a decent performance in the opening 70 minutes I think some fans were hopeful of the possible outcome of the game. It is unfortunate to see a team crumble with only 20 minutes to go but it was somewhat of an expected result given the injuries and suspension to their center backs.

3 Observations

  • Enough Blaming the Referees: Yes it sucks for a game to be influenced by referees! Yes it sucks that the Impact are always on the wrong side of the coin flip! At the same time, this isn’t a new issue and the Impact aren’t the only sport team suffering from bad decisions. Referees are human and will make mistakes, some more than others, but the Impact need to stop blaming the things they can’t control and start taking control of their own destiny. The Impact keep putting themselves in these fifty fifty decisions and yes unfortunately they lose them or missing golden scoring chances. In the end, the Impact again showed a good stint in part of the game but not in the other!
  • A Glimpse Into the Garde Philosophy: We saw a few flashes of what the Impact could be! Defensively structured and collective effort leading to good scoring opportunities. As seen below the Impact forced the players of Atlanta to play on the wings and this also led them to have less successful opportunities. When there was a regression in the play of the Impact and a higher offensive press by Atlanta, the Impact players could unfortunately not hold their own. With time and the correct players in the starting 11 (and even in the starting 18), this playing philosophy might establish itself more profoundly in the players.
  • Passionate Taider: One thing that stood out to me during the game was the amount of passion that Taider has for the game. From being stoked after scoring a big goal to be angry after a bad call from the referee. The passion that Taider displays is not a bad thing because we’ve seen glimpses of it since his arrival and it usually leads to him wanting to make something happen. Side note, he needs to be careful not to try and make these things happen by himself or get overly passionate resulting in cautions or more.
MLS: Montreal Impact at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

MTL – G-Evan Bush; D-Chris Duvall, Rudy Camacho, Jukka Raitala, Daniel Lovitz; M-Samuel Piette, Ken Krolicki (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 85’), Saphir Taïder; A-Alejandro Silva (Dominic Oduro 90’), Jeisson Vargas (Michael Petrasso 78’), Ignacio Piatti

Unused substitutes – Clément Diop, Shamit Shome, Louis Béland-Goyette, Matteo Mancosu

ATL – G-Brad Guzan; D-Chris McCann, Leandro González Pirez, Michael Parkhurst; M-Darlington Nagbe, Greg Garza (Kevin Kratz 75’), Jeff Larentowicz (Héctor Villalba 46’), Julian Gressel; A-Ezequiel Barco (Franco Escobar 88’), Josef Martínez, Miguel Almirón

Unused substitutes – Alec Kann, Sal Zizzo, Brandon Vázquez, Romario Williams

GOALS

MTL – Taïder (Duvall, Silva) 13’

ATL – Almirón (PEN) 70’

ATL – Kratz 78’

ATL – Almirón (Martínez) 84’

ATL – Kratz 90’+4’

CAUTIONS

MTL – Piette 35’

ATL – González Pirez 56’

ATL – Garza 59’

MTL – Bush 60’

MTL – Duvall 68’

ATL – Almirón 81’

MTL – Taïder 83’