Sun and soccer, fun and football at Stade Saputo on Saturday, as the Impact at last returned to winning ways.
The almost 16,000 crowd was treated to a virtuoso performance by the maestro that is Nacho Piatti. Perhaps his finest performance in bleu/blanc/noir, the Argentinian dismantled what up to then had been one of the meanest defences in MLS, setting up three goals and helping himself to another.
It didn’t set out like that would be the case. Andrew Farrell and his New England rearguard colleagues seemed to have Piatti’s measure. Little came off for the Montreal number 10, until the stroke of half-time when he set Jackson-Hamel, restored to the starting line-up, racing towards goal. The tall striker just about beat Turner in the Revs net to end the half on a happy note for the home side.
New England had looked a well-drilled, supremely fit outfit up until that moment, with much greater physical stature. But it was a sign of things to come, as the Piatti show continued, almost straight after the restart.
Again for the second goal, Jackson-Hamel was the main beneficiary, finishing with aplomb, before Raheem Edwards’ first-time, left-footer nestled in the corner, the goal of the game, again made in Argentina.
Piatti’s assist for Jackson-Hamel’s second goal broke Patrice Bernier’s old club record for MLS assists, his set-up for Edwards drawing him two clear of Brossard’s finest.
Montreal had hit the front men more quickly than usual this afternoon, and the fourth goal mirrored the tactic, Piette’s long pass forcing the defenders to turn, and all they could do was trail in the wake of Piatti in full flight. Just as it looked like Nacho had taken a touch extra making the angle more difficult, he rifled the ball into the same corner as both Jackson-Hamel and Edwards had done moments earlier. It was a busy corner, and Turner was retrieving from the net a fourth time!
After recent form, Montreal racing into a 4-0 lead was not what anyone expected. After all it was only the second-time in MLS history that they’d found themselves in such a position.
The withdrawal of Piatti - one suspected Remi Garde was exercising clemency towards his visitors - had an effect. Old failings came back to haunt Montreal, as Wilfried Zahibo, now three New England goals this season (all against Montreal) struck twice to half the arrears.
New England’s mini-revival however never looked like restoring a side, run ragged by a very special player, producing a very special performance, in his 100thMLS appearance.
Player ratings and comment, as I saw it . . . .
Evan Bush – 7/10 – Another good performance from the Montreal custodian, the most obvious early-season contender, with Ignacio Piatti, for MVP-2018. May have dealt better with corner which set up Zahibo’s first goal, although to be fair, the New England man benefitted from some non-existent marking.
Chris Duvall – 6/10 – Steady game despite facing adversity in the face of Cristian Penilla, who provided a sterner test in the first-half.
Victor Cabrera – 6.5/10 – Much better than in recent outings. Performed well in yet another different defensive configuration.
Jukka Raitala – 6.5/10 – Played well at Atlanta the previous week, and this was more of the same. Still playing what’s considered not his natural position, so deserves credit for that too. Dispossessed Bunbury in midfield leading to the move that produced the second Montreal goal.
Daniel Lovitz – 6/10 – Great tenacity as always, which makes up for some technical deficiency. Good energy too. Always willing to join the attack when opportunity arises.
Samuel Piette – 7/10 – A better game from the defensive midfielder. Several good interceptions, one leading to the third goal, and a nice set-up for Piatti for the fourth.
Alejandro Silva – 6.5/10 – Looking more settled and confident. Nice lofted pass to Piatti in the build-up to the second goal. Showed enough to suggest he’s feeling more “at home”. Can see much more coming from this player.
Saphir Taider – 6.5/10 –Energetic performance, although still not as midfield-dominant as I believe a player of his caliber can be.
Raheem Edwards – 7/10 –Only his second start of the season, but ultimately, he’s produced. Plenty of hustle in the face of physically stronger opponents, and a nice goal, the icing on the cake of a fine performance. Could’ve had another but fluffed his lines when close-in early in the game.
Ignacio Piatti – 9.5/10– A near perfect performance on a day when the Argentinian maestro not unreasonably, could nominate his performance as the best-ever by an Impact player. After a quiet enough start to the game, Revs found him simply unplayable. He clinically dismantled the opposition, well beyond repair. Magical! Now holds both goal-scoring and assist records for the Impact, a set completed in exactly his 100thMLS appearance – a certain deserved and appropriate symmetry there!
Anthony Jackson-Hamel – 8/10 – Burst into life with a goal on the stroke of HT, despite a frustrating first 45, when he may have earned an early penalty after a challenge from Dielna. Some good running, a second goal, and in truth unlucky not to become the fourth Impact player in history to record an MLS hat-trick. Only the thickness of the paint on the goal-post denied him!
Jeisson Vargas – 6/10- Some nice touches after his introduction. Won’t contribute much defensively, not in his locker.
Michael Petrasso– 6/10 – Found himself in good situations on the right flank where he might have done better to hurt the opponent, but a steady contribution nonetheless.
Matteo Mancosu – 6/10– Had a great chance to add a fifth, but delayed pulling the trigger, allowing Dielna to block. Looked lively, and importantly, fit again.