Montreal Impact yesterday, wrote themselves into the history books for all the wrong reasons, emphatically answering concerns around the brittleness of their squad, a unit clearly not yet of the quality required.
There have been things to admire already this season, but the performance (and result) in Kansas City is simply, unacceptable. Had Saphir Taider not scored a late token, it would’ve been a case of, “7-0, with Montreal lucky to get NIL!!!”
It matters not that Diallo’s silly red card in Orlando prevented his inclusion, that Piatti’s knee injury ruled him out, and, worst of all, that Harry Novillo forgot his passport preventing his travel. What certainly does matter, is their team-mates’ abject efforts and inability to cover the absenteeism.
Remi Garde almost always cuts a figure of studious calm, but you have to hope, last evening, he read the riot act to this motley crew of Montreal footballers. They made mistakes aplenty, poor decisions, lacked leadership and appeared unable to carry out instructions. Far from looking the well-prepared eleven we have come to expect from this coach, last night was an utter shambles. Simply put, they let him down!
“We made too many mistakes, way too many,” said Garde. “Our opponent played simple and collectively, but we answered with too many individual errors. We needed to answer as a team. This game hurts, but we need to turn the page and learn from this loss for our upcoming games.”
It will be interesting to see what effect this has over the next two road games before the Impact returns for its home opener against Columbus, in Montreal. Does the team now go backwards, confidence shot and struggle with visitor status, as been the case throughout its MLS existence, or do they have the character to bounce back immediately? If they don’t get key players back, there’s little likelihood of being tempted towards the latter. And even then, if they do ... ?
Sporting KC away, was always going to be a challenge. Sometimes you play poorly, ride your luck a little, gain a foothold and find a way to play yourself into the game. But not yesterday. Not with the mood SKC were in. Not that they were brilliant - they didn’t need to be - but they were ruthless, and Montreal gave them plenty of opportunities.
It all began with Evan Bush’s horrible throw-out in the 10th minute. Not that Montreal hadn’t other opportunities to defend the situation before Johnny Russell pounced, but they looked way off the pace and on the back foot. Previously, Gerso’s 2nd minute goal chalked off (rightly) after VAR intervention, should have provided the warning signal. If indeed it did, it was ignored.
Had Montreal reached the interval only one goal down things may have turned out differently. Hard to see how, admittedly, but the course of the game was to be firmly fashioned in the dying embers of that first-half.
You defend as a team and you attack as a team and no one player is above blame, but the central defensive pairing hardly covered themselves in glory. It was the fourth MLS game in which Cabrera and Camacho appeared as a set, in the previous three they had conceded 9 times, including the infamous 3-5 home reverse to LAFC last year. After yesterday, they’ve now raised that average by a full point to 4 conceded per game, when they play as a central pairing.
We’ve seen Cabrera play adequately often enough, when alongside a strong partner, but as the main man in a pair? Not so sure. As for Camacho .... ? I was surprised to see the former Beveren centre-back get the nod ahead of Raitala, but in he went, sadly with catastrophic consequences.
Ever since the Frenchman arrived he’s failed to impress. From an, at best, shaky debut at Red Bull Stadium, when he looked slow and perplexed, through various unconvincing displays culminating with arguably the least effective one, yesterday.
We were led to believe he wasn’t fully fit, had come off a long Belgian season, and would be an asset once acclimatized. We’re still waiting. The Belgian Jupiler League must have taken a few steps backwards from the one I used to know and respect from what now seems a distant past.
Of course he wasn’t the only one. And the club’s organization doesn’t escape censure either. If as reported, there’s truth behind Harry Novillo’s “lack of passport” debacle, then someone needs to introduce a process whereby something like this doesn’t re-occur. This simply does not happen in professional football.
Sporting will have tougher run outs against Swope Park Rangers, their farm club, than they had against the Impact, Saturday. Remi Garde on the other hand, has been cruelly and forcibly reminded his team does not yet have the depth to battle with the top sides in MLS whenever certain key performers are unavailable.
SKC – GK-Tim Melia; D-Graham Zusi, Andreu Fontàs, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic; M-Roger Espinoza (Gianluca Busio 62’), Ilie Sánchez, Felipe Gutiérrez (Kelyn Rowe 74’); F-Johnny Russell; Krisztián Németh, Gerso (Yohan Croizet 71’)
Subs not used – Adrián Zendejas, Botond Baráth, Gedion Zelalem, Rodney Wallace
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Bacary Sagna, Víctor Cabrera, Rudy Camacho, Daniel Lovitz; M-Samuel Piette, Micheal Azira, Shamit Shome (Clément Bayiha 54’); F-Orji Okwonkwo (Jukka Raitala 76’), Maximiliano Urruti (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 90’+1’), Saphir Taïder
Subs not used – Clément Diop, Amar Sejdic, Mathieu Choinière
KC – Russell (Németh) 10’
KC – Németh (Gerso, Felipe Gutiérrez) 43’
KC – Gutiérrez (Gerso, Espinoza) 45’+2’
KC – Russell (Espinoza) 50’
KC – Németh (Russell) 68’
KC – Busio 78’
KC – Németh (Sánchez 84’)
MTL – Taïder (Urruti, Lovitz) 89’
MTL – Lovitz 19’
MTL – Piette 22’