Most of what needs to be said of last Saturday’s debacle has already been posted, tweeted, talked about on radio, TV and in the press, a million times.
It was quite simply the poorest showing yet from an Impact side in this most frustrating of seasons. Only the annus horribilis of 2014, rivals what we’ve seen since March for disappointment and a sheer sense of underwhelming.
Won three. Lost eight!
Go back to Impact’s last 21 MLS encounters, it doesn’t get any better. Won four. Lost seventeen!
Those that own/run the club can consider themselves fortunate this is Canada, not Europe or South America. The relatively tame crowd reaction, yes there were a few whistles, but come on, it wasn’t so ugly, at the final whistle Saturday, spoke of an apathetic crowd which now expects not to win.
The apathy was matched by too many on the field. Yes, for sure The Ultras behind the goal kept a rhythm and momentum going throughout (commendable), but it was clear that neither the crowd nor the team, was capable of lifting the other on an exceptionally flat day for Montreal football.
Worse, Stade Saputo needs the electronic scoreboard to tell fans to make “BRUIT/NOISE” when the Impact, already behind in the game, gets a corner. This shouldn’t require choreography or prompt.
A cauldron, or an intimidating arena, Stade Saputo was not, for the visit of goal-less travelers, Philadelphia Union. Even after Evan Bush had performed not one, not two, but three critical saves, to keep his team from falling behind, the home side still failed to cotton on, it wasn’t a case of just turning up to win.
Piatti and Edwards did go close before Jamaican international, Corey Burke, making his first start of the season, headed past the Montreal ‘keeper not long before the break.
Union coach Jim Curtin had rung the changes, as forecast in this column’s match preview, after an inept display at Columbus the previous midweek. Burke was one benefactor as five Union players were left out. Taking his chance with both feet (and head), he gave Raitala a torrid time before leaving proceedings early with a red card on the hour. Here was a centre-forward prepared to dig deep and make things happen, he looked hungry, he put himself about. He earned his just rewards.
Few players from the Impact emerged with any credit, Evan Bush, Rod Fanni and Samuel Piette, probably the notable exceptions.
Taider had a chance to square things up, but missed with a simple header from Silva’s cross, probably the one positive ball of true quality we saw from the Impact in the final third all afternoon!
After Lovitz was correctly dismissed ten minutes after Burke, and numerical parity restored, you felt that, that was it, there would be no way back. And so, it proved.
There was still time however for Raitala to lapse concentration allowing Accam to set-up Medunjanin for Philly’s second and secure a 2ndroad win in 29 for the Sons of Ben!
This was a result and performance that shook Stade Saputo to its roots. Or if not, it should! The beaten team upon returning to the sanctuary of its changing area was met by the owner. If Joey launched into a tirade of angry, harsh words, then it was no more, or no less, than deserved. The time for patience, diplomacy and soft man-management skills, now rooted firmly in the past, the immediate requirement, short-term, is for much tough-talk and direct eye-contact. Simply, it’s time to cut to the chase …
The debate around what’s wrong at the Impact will rage on and on - theories and counter-theories emerging here, there and everywhere - and certainly won’t be resolved within this particular reflection of Saturday’s events.
The bigger picture simply warrants lengthier copy and greater time, a commodity which may be running out not only for some of the management team, but also for some of the playing staff.
Player ratings and comment, as I saw it . . . .
Evan Bush – 7/10 –Kept his team in the contest with three good stops in the first-half before being beaten by Burke’s header.
Michael Petrasso – 4/10 –Didn’t have a good afternoon, either defensively, when he struggled against Fafa Picault, or when attempting to join in the attack.
Jukka Raitala – 4/10 –After a couple of decent performances, this was one that reminds he’s not really a central defender, and one that he will be keen to forget. Culpable in both Philadelphia goals.
Rod Fanni – 6.5/10 –By the length of the St-Lawrence, the best Impact defender on view. Cool, cultured and collected. Not well supported by his colleagues in the back four.
Daniel Lovitz – 4/10 –All tenacity, no composure. Gave too much possession away even in situations when not under pressure. Took a red card, eliminating numerical advantage when failing to deal with a through ball to Picault. Missed connecting with the ball, then pulled the attacker down in the aftermath. A VAR decision, but the right one.
Samuel Piette – 6/10 –Worked tirelessly throughout, trying to get his team-mates going. Performed consistently, including during the closing stages, in which he helped significantly to shore up the defensive line.
Alejandro Silva – 5.5/10 –There’s talent there which still has to emerge. Still not seeing enough from the Uruguayan. Still doesn’t look settled. A rare moment of quality was his delivery for Taider, who squandered Montreal’s best chance of the game.
Saphir Taider – 5/10 –Plenty of running and energy for the most part, however lacked cohesion with team-mates. Some short passing movements failing to find target, questioning the level of understanding with colleagues. Sometimes get the impression he tries to do too much (similar observations around Dzemaili last season), then runs out of steam later on. Missed Montreal’s best chance of the game.
Raheem Edwards – 5/10 –Performance was a mixed bag. Some good, some bad. Forced a decent save from Blake in the Union goal with the score still at 0-0. Tried a few ambitious passes that didn’t come off, giving up possession in the process.
Ignacio Piatti – 4.5/10– Nacho again struggled to make a significant contribution. The one occasion during which he was able to elude his defensive shackles saw him conjure a chance and almost put his side in front. Had penalty claims early in the game, but nothing doing.
Anthony Jackson-Hamel – 5/10 – Had one sight of goal in the second-half, when his effort stung the palms of Blake. Not enough endeavor and on a few occasions when he may have conjured up something, his control betrayed him. Still looks the epitome of a player who will do better emerging from the bench.
Dominic Oduro– for Petrasso (83). Not on the field log enough to warrant a rating.
Matteo Mancosu – for Edwards (81). Not on the field long enough to warrant a rating.