Probably no-one would argue with last night’s Man of the Match honours going to Bojan Krkic.
After all, the little Catalan set the evening’s tempo for the Impact, scored the opening goal, at times led a decent Argentinian defender a merry dance and set up the winner, but another match-winning performance at the other end of the pitch should not be overshadowed.
Joel Waterman hasn’t yet managed to consistently force his way into Thierry Henry’s first-choice eleven, but if he keeps turning in performances like he did last evening, it won’t be long.
His was a solid, organized contribution within a makeshift back four that had never played together competitively before.
Not only that, after only three starts this season there was a sense of being thrown in at the deep end. In direct opposition was Gonzalo Higuain, who’s played for a few decent clubs in his time; Juventus, Real Madrid... not to mention an appearance in the 2014 World Cup Final.
It certainly was a case of sink or swim.
Waterman (24) passed his test with flying colours, but how did he prepare for the experience?
“I’m the type of player who tries to stay ready for whenever I’m called upon. Obviously with Rod [Fanni] getting injured and Luis [Binks] being out with cards, I knew I might get my opportunity, so I had time to prepare over the past couple of days and do my research and studying on who I would be playing against.”
But Gonzalo Higuain; was that not a daunting prospect since last year he was winning Serie A with Juventus, while Waterman was playing Can PL soccer for Cavalry?
“Well yeah, obviously this one was against Gonzalo. And, you know, I’ve watched him play a lot for Juventus and all the other amazing clubs he played for and to get a chance to play against the best it was a real honour for me. I wanted to play him fair and hard just like anybody else.”
Waterman at no stage during the proceedings looked overawed. He made a competent start boosted by winning an important tackle which began the move that culminated in Bojan’s opening goal after only six minutes.
Higuain was kept quiet. It was a night of few chances for the Argentinian noted for terrorizing defences in some of the top leagues in Europe and a lot of that was down to Waterman and his defensive colleagues staying focused and sticking to their collective task.
“We were focussed on trying to keep a clean sheet and staying compact at the back and I thought we did that very well tonight,” said Waterman
It’s hard to argue with that last statement, as it will be in the future for Thierry Henry to ignore Waterman’s claims for inclusion to his starting line-up.
From the adversity of the past few weeks, the sheer travel frustrations and inconvenience of being separated from family which each of the Canadian clubs has had to endure, a couple of shards of light have emerged for Montreal Impact.
We’ve seen some tidy and composed football from Amar Sejdic, not to mention a couple of goals, but also tonight, perhaps, we’ve just witnessed the coming of age in MLS terms, of Joel Waterman.