I hate the “Three Things We Learned From .... “ cookie-cutter articles that pop up all too often, but reluctantly may need to borrow a similar format this evening.
We learned that the debacle at Sporting KC was not a blip, for here in Pennsylvania today was another aberration.
We had it confirmed (again) that Montreal Impact is uncompetitive on the road without Ignacio Piatti. This was the 47th consecutive MLS road game, without Piatti, that IMFC has failed to win. The last time they did prevail was 8 September 2013 when they played against 10 men for 85 mins and benefitted from two penalty awards. Just think about that. 47 games without winning!!! Without the Argentine, Montreal looks like a butter-knife trying to cut steak!
We again had confirmation that bench-strength, despite misplaced optimism recently after the 0-0 at DCU, is really ‘bench’ without the ‘strength’.
There was further confirmation that on-field leadership is lacking. There is simply not enough big players on this team who can pick the rest up during times of adversity, or that can stand up and be counted themselves. You need to earn the right to play your own game, particularly away from home. Montreal Impact today, never got close.
They looked, at best, insipid in an opening period that produced little of note from either side. It would possibly have remained so, only for a horrendously casual pass from Lovitz. An error unforced, the Montreal left-back gave the ball to Cory Burke, who advanced freely and easily, as Raitala back-pedalled. Diallo in covering, was too far away and Burke produced a low drive from 20 yards past the despairing dive of Bush.
It was the 14th min, and the first time The Union had scored in the first third of any match this season.
Montreal responded briefly. Urruti played Sagna out wide, but the full-back’s cross was comfortably gathered by Blake, Taider had an opportunity but tried to lob Blake, when power may have yielded a better result, and Novillo had probably the best chance on 33, but he shot straight at the Philly goalkeeper.
It was the only spell in the game, apart from 5 minutes after the restart, where you might have argued that the visitors didn’t play sterile football, but normal practise was resumed soon enough.
Philadelphia, lacking Trusty, top scorer Accam, DP Marco Fabian and with Aurelien Collin seeing action for the first time this season, had not been particularly impressive either, but they were much better than Montreal, and doubled their lead just before half-time.
Zakaria Diallo held Elliott at a corner, for about 5 seconds, and 10 yards, denying the Union man illegally. It was lazy defending by the Impact player, the only surprise being Mr Sibiga’s reference to VAR before confirming the penalty award. Monteiro beat Bush from the spot with ease. 2-0.
Impact replaced Okwonkwo and Taider at the break. There had been rumours of an injury to Taider during the week. Upon reflection Impact fans will hope those rumours were ringing true, as the Algerian put in an unhappy and ineffective 45 minutes.
Shome and Bayiha did not bring improvement, and the Union went further in front on 57 mins, a comedic goal due to Burke’s miscue, which saw Philly forwards lining up to tap home.
Bayiha, caught in no man’s land, lost Wagner on the Union left and the German who would not complete the 90, ran onto Medunjinan’s exquisite chip to provide the opportunity, eventually converted by Bedoya. Impact’s centre-backs were static, and only Sagna made a decent attempt to prevent the score.
In falling to its heaviest defeat ever to Philadelphia, it was a remarkably flat display by Montreal. Urruti at least was lively and industrious, but looks like a striker that doesn’t relish the responsibility of goalscoring. Rarely is he in the position a predator should be, but even more scarce has been the service provided by a team desperately lacking creativity.
So ineffectual were Impact they were unable to test rookie goalkeeper Matt Freese, in the game from the 54th minute, even once. It was the perfect MLS debut for the 20 year-old. If he was nervous, it was never apparent. In fact there were more signs of boredom.
Montreal just didn’t look ready, or up for the contest from the first whistle. Philadelphia will have few easier victories throughout the course of this season, than that enjoyed this afternoon.
Amidst some decent performances so far, the lack of creative quality on view in other games must be of serious concern to everyone connected with the Impact. Piatti, when fit, clearly makes a difference and the untested Omar Browne may help, but how much longer can Montreal rely on the Argentine, while optimism around Browne remains weighed more on hope than expectation.
Fingers (and toes) must be very firmly crossed.
Philadelphia - Blake (Freese, 54) - Gaddis, Elliott, Collin, Wagner (Red Card, 90) - Medunjanin, Bedoya - Ilsinho (Picault, 66), Monteiro, Aaronson - Burke (Przybylko, 83)
IMFC - Bush - Sagna, Raitala, Diallo, Lovitz - Piette, Azira, Taider (Shome, 46) - Okwonkwo (Bayiha, 46), Urruti, Novillo (Choiniere, 74)
Referee: Robert Sibigia
Asst Refs: Adam Garner, Felisha Mariscal
4th Official: Marcos DeOlivera
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic
Attendance - 15,407