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Reflections and Player Ratings from Last Saturday Evening ...

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Montreal Impact
Jeisson Vargas (right) produced the game’s decisive moment. Here he is congratulated by strike partner Anthony Jackson-Hamel
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Like so much else in life, football is in no small measure about confidence. It’s not been an abundant commodity this season at Stade Saputo, but wins like last Saturday evening over Houston, will help it grow.

No-one present will acclaim the victory as a magnificent one, but it may represent a turning point unlike previous narrow but notable victories, which have proven false dawns. Impact fans live in hope.

Those same fans displayed a touching unity with their team. To a man, woman and child, in the stands they rose to their feet in noisy applause as the game petered to its conclusion. The players’ game management in the latter stages, an improvement on previous games, suggests they would’ve made it over the line anyhow, but the fans were prepared to do their bit to ensure a winning lead would not slip. They helped see their team home, for everyone realised how important this win was.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Montreal Impact
Man of the Match, Samuel Piette
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

It will take the spotlight and focus away from Remi Garde …. until the next defeat. The coach will be hoping to limp on, collecting points, until the new window arrives. The players he brings in will be crucial not only to health of the club, but also to the prospects of him being the first Impact coach to serve out the full term of a contract.

On the night, Samuel Piette played a major role. Never the most creative of players, his midfield industry, ability to win and move the ball, and desire for the shirt were all shining examples of a player committed wholly to the cause. It was he, more than other more naturally gifted team-mates, who had the greatest influence on this game.

Piatti had another frustrating evening, topped by rattling the cross-bar for the second game in succession. The back four were steady, and Bush sustained his good seasonal form in one of his least busy assignments.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Montreal Impact
Evan Bush - impressive consistency - seen here under challenge from Alberth Elis.
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

A win is always a good result no matter the factors that surround it. It must however be remembered that Houston on the night, despite being significantly under-strength, participated in a tight game, with few chances created. Montreal still has a long way to go, but that realisation is not lost on those who departed into the Montreal evening a little happier than on recent occasions.

Player ratings and comment, as I saw it . . . .

Evan Bush – 7/10 – Another good performance, more reliant on concentration levels than before in that his involvement was probably less than in any previous game this season. Key save from a Raitala interception was his most critical moment.

Jukka Raitala – 7/10 – Coped well with the threat of the physically stronger and faster, Elis, positional sense and timing coming to the fore. Part of collectively one of the best defensive displays of the season, if not the best.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Montreal Impact
Jukka Raitala, glad to sign off with a win and shut-out, prior to departing on international duty with Finland.
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Rod Fanni – 7/10 – Has certainly made a case for being kept longer than June when his term runs out. Management certainly have a decision to make. Another fine display where he maintained control throughout. Rarely loses out in a one on one situation.

Daniel Lovitz – 6.5/10 – Continues to blow hot and cold. Typical energetic performance, lending his presence to the attack frequently throughout the first half. Adequate with his defensive duties, still needs to exercise precision when in possession.

Samuel Piette – 8/10 – Simply the driving force behind the victory, even claiming an assist for the goal. Did his job, and performed it well. Montreal’s top performer on the evening, and often played a little higher up the field than we’ve seen before.

Saphir Taider – 6.5/10 – Performed a more defensive role in what was an overall more cautious approach by his team. Missed his driving runs in joining the attack, but obviously playing to instructions that proved effective.

Raheem Edwards – 6.5/10 – Continues to show promise, and certainly in the team on merit. Brings a different dimension with the ability to take opponents on. Managed to get behind the Houston rearguard only to see his goal-bound effort blocked by Willis in goal. Worked hard off the ball too.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Montreal Impact
Raheem Edwards tussles with DaMarcus Beasley
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Ignacio Piatti – 5.5/10 – Similar performance to the previous week. A frustrating evening topped by a great volleyed drive from the edge of the box which rattled the underside of the cross-bar, which failed to bounce the right side of the line, from a Montreal perspective.

Jeisson Vargas – 6.5/10 – The match winner! As much as his goal was a brilliant piece of opportunism, his involvement in the game otherwise, was negligible. Yes, he’s young, and yes, he displays talent, but the game passes him by too much. A prospect with talent.

Anthony Jackson-Hamel – 5/10 – Didn’t provide the cutting edge required, nor the physicality to hold the ball awaiting support. Lost out in a couple of one on one duels with the opposition centre-backs, who probably had a quieter evening than anticipated.


Ken Krolicki – 6/10 – Used his strengths when introduced. Covered a lot of ground and was involved in breaking up play and making his presence felt through blocks and tackles.

Alejandro Silva – 5.5/10 – Performed adequately after being introduced, but Montreal needs to see more from one of its designated players. If he was good enough to play internationally for Uruguay it’s reasonable that more is expected. Confidence looks to have dipped, so will need to play himself out from the rut.