Montreal Impact last night produced its latest dreadful performance in what has become a wretched season.
Even when points were being collected in the early months, the football was uninspiring as much as sleep-inducing, the third round victory in Orlando excepted.
The huge gamble of replacing Remi Garde with Wilmer Cabrera has failed spectacularly. It never felt the right move given all circumstances, and so it has proven. Whether or not the Impact would have reached the play-off holy grail had Garde remained is a debate for conjecture. We will never know, but after last night with post-season soccer as far away as ever, you can’t help thinking they might’ve had a better chance.
This is not to pour scorn over the efforts of Cabrera. I’m just not sure how anyone coming in at that point of the season could’ve been any more effective.
The squad is a disjointed mess, some good players there for sure, but proper planning is required to build an effective unit, and everything appears to have come together rather haphazardly. Look at the last four signings. Bojan, an undoubted talent, but at the most crucial part of the Impact’s season, a player with so little recent game time under his belt, it was always going to be difficult for him to hit the ground running.
Tabla, a player who looks physically stronger, but not better than in his previous spell at the Impact. He too was unfit.
Rod Fanni. Hasn’t played for a year.
Haphazardly did I say? Yeah, that’s just about right!
The only player in the recent quartet of arrivals possessing match-fitness is one who may yet contribute positively and steadily to the future Impact cause, but Jorge Corrales was never the one that was going to make the difference this season.
For sure missing Ignacio Piatti throughout has been a huge factor, but a team so dependent on one player again raises questions around planning and recruitment. It really is just not good enough.
Last night, while not entirely unexpected, was at the same time, shocking. Not only in losing to the league’s worst side at home, but also in failing to breach a defence that’s conceded 27 goals in its last 9 contests and hadn’t kept a clean-sheet in 27. You could take this one further in relation to Montreal’s creative ineptitude. I can only remember Tyton, the Cincinnati goalkeeper having one serious save to make, from Urruti, who met Piatti’s cross in the 40th minute.
Forty minutes at home against the league’s basement side to get your first shot on target in a crucial, must-win game. Again, just not good enough.
The evening’s sole success was possibly in not conceding from a set-play, but then again Montreal was unable to reach even minute two on level terms, Allan Cruz finding himself gifted with ball, time and space to fire in a 25-second opener with the Impact all at sea.
It’s the sixth time this season the Impact have been blanked at home. And there’s two home matches yet to come! Even in the abysmal 2014 season, there were only three blanks, which until 2019 was the record. Who’s to say it will remain at ‘only’ six? In 15 home games this season, the Impact has registered only 19 goals.
Remember ‘home games’ were to be the key after achieving some decent early results on the road.
Losing twice to struggling expansion side Cincinnati, a team which has totalled so far only six victories wasn’t in the blueprint either.
Perplexed, Wilmer Cabrera looked devoid of answers or short-term solutions during his post-match press conference, although it’s hard to blame him. Perhaps there’s too much emphasis though on protecting his players, he appears to find excuses for them better than solutions for the team. You trust he’s much stronger and sterner behind closed doors.
This Impact squad, while probably not talented enough, needs some tough love. Cabrera may nobly accept the blame, but underperforming players must be called out.
Those who steer the club’s direction from up on high need to do better too.
IMFC - Bush - Sagna, Camacho, Raitala, Lovitz - Okwonkwo (Tabla, 69), Piette, Taider, Piatti - Bojan (Lappalainen, 76), Urruti.
Cincinnati - Tyton - Garza, van der Werff, Waston, Deplagne - Amaya (Hagglund, 89), Bertone, Ledesma, Cruz (Alashe, 70), Gyau - Mattocks (Dally, 85).
Note: Cincinnati finished the game with ten players following the expulsion of Kendall Waston for his second yellow card.
Match Officials -
Referee - Ramy Touchan
Asst Refs - Brian Dunn, CJ Morgante
4th Official - Armando Villareal
VAR - David Barrie