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Piatti Impact Unable to Lift The Tedium

Drab again and scoreless at Stade Saputo. Impact ... 0 New England ... 0

MLS: New England Revolution at Montreal Impact
Montreal welcomed back Nacho Piatti this afternoon, but his return was unable to inspire victory
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Inspiring it was not. A game that flickered to life all too briefly in spells, did little to suggest that Montreal has yet found a goalscoring formula.

Two goals in 360 minutes at home this season. Not a good return, and indeed the players who claimed those goals were not involved this afternoon.

The brightest feature of the game from a home perspective was the return of Nacho Piatti, but even the Argentinian could not lift his team the way he lifted his adoring crowd upon entering the fray.

Montreal enjoyed healthy success on the right-hand side during the latter part of the first half with Brault-Guillard, Shome and Okwonkwo combining well, and should really have opened the scoring during this period.

The best chance fell to Urruti, off Shome’s delicate through pass. Aware of the advancing Cropper, he clipped the ball over the ‘keeper’s diving frame, but Anibaba, whom Urruti had escaped earlier in the move, managed to retreat quickly enough to clear the rolling ball off the line.

MLS: New England Revolution at Montreal Impact
A confident first-half display by Shamit Shome who was instrumental in setting up Montreal’s best chance of the afternoon for Maxi Urruti.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

But even before their best spell, Okwonkwo was causing problems and delivered chances to Urruti who missed the target on 16 mins, and Taider who fluffed his finish from 10 yards when centrally placed just before the half-hour. What concluded however, was Montreal’s 11th consecutive, scoreless first-half.

New England had their moments too, particularly through substitute Jones, whose blistering run troubled Diallo, not having one of his best afternoons. The angle however was narrow for the attacker, and Bush stood up big, to block the danger.

And it was the visitors that opened the second-half the brighter. On 48, Jones showed Penilla an overlap, and his cross flashed across Bush’s goal with no-one there to apply the finishing touch. Right after, Carles Gil, a cultured play-maker, wriggled his way into the box, forcing Bush to concede a corner.

By now New England were pressing higher, effectively ensuring the Shome-Okwonkwo axis remained only a first-half feature. Montreal was unable to adapt, and Garde sent for his star man hoping to find the catalyst for success. Much as his introduction on 66 mins provided a lift to all in bleu/blanc/noir, it was less than reasonable to expect the magic to work right away. And it didn’t. Piatti, and his team, will however be better for the outing.

The Revs enjoyed most of the best moments of the second period, as Carles Gil became more influential.

MLS: New England Revolution at Montreal Impact
Carles Gil, more influential as the game wore on seen here tussling with Shamit Shome.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Spanish creator played in Teal Bunbury, but the striker’s attempt from close range was wild. Agudelo flashed a volley across goal, Jones had a long-ranger blocked, and on 64 mins Bunbury was gifted a chance by Brault-Guillard, but Bush spared his right-back’s blushes. Brault-Guillard may have been distracted by the sudden increase in volume due to Piatti being summoned to the touchline.

There were positives for both sides to take from this game. For Montreal the first-half performances of Shome and Okwonko, although the level was not sustained, and of course the return of Piatti. Shome was a player boosted in confidence throughout that first 45 mins and Okwonkwo lively and dangerous. The tweaks made at half-time by New England coach, Mike Lapper proved effective, all but negating the Montreal threat.

For New England it was a case of steadying a porous ship. They have now conceded once in 180 minutes, when in the previous four games, they’d leaked eighteen!

While Lapper will probably be the happier of the two coaches, both will feel somewhat frustrated that neither’s side won the game.

Evan Bush, claiming a sixth clean-sheet of the season, tried to put some reason around the Impact’s inconsistent form.

“A lot of it is we haven’t had a lot of home games, and couple that with the injuries we've had.”

“I would say the opposite in that a lot of seasons in the past we’ve been on either good runs or bad runs, and I prefer to be in this situation where we’re more even keel, rather than being terrible for ten games like we were at the start of last year and then very good for ten at the end.”

MLS: Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact
A sixth clean-sheet of the season for Evan Bush on the day he claimed the record number of appearances for IMFC in the MLS-era (187 - all comps).
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

“The more that we are able to be consistent in games, the better it will be for us as we go down into the summer and fall months and hopefully we can continue on in the Conference, where we are now, to get points and be a little better at home.”

The Impact now head to LAFC on Friday evening for what will prove a major test. They must do so without midfielder Sam Piette, whose yellow card in the dying embers of today’s game rules him out with suspension.

Line-ups -

IMFC: Bush - Brault-Guillard, Raitala, Diallo, Lovitz - Shome, Piette, Taider - Choiniere (Piatti, 66), Okwonkwo (Jackson-Hamel, 74), Urruti.

NERevs: Turner - Bye, Farrell, Anibaba, Castillo (Jones, 34) - Agudelo, Carles Gil, L Caicedo, Penilla - Fagundez (Buchanan, 60), Bunbury (Zahibo, 90).

Officials -
Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant Referees: Gianni Facchini, Logan Brown
4th Official: Fotis Bazakos
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez