Leading 3-0 in the closing minutes of the meaningless last league game of 2019, Wilmer Cabrera called upon Shamit Shome.
The young Impact midfielder two years previously had replaced Patrice Bernier at the end of his captain’s last-ever game for the Impact.
This time Shome was about to replace another Impact legend, Ignacio Piatti. The change when it came with five minutes of regulation time remaining, was accompanied by a throng of wonder and uncertainty.
Were we seeing the very last of Nacho in an Impact uniform? Just in case, the crowd rose to applaud, everyone unified under the same sentiment. Was this it, the end for the Argentine talisman who’d delighted MLS crowds for the past five years, none more so than in Quebec?
There had been speculation, there was always speculation, fuelling the crowd’s concern. Confusion reigned, some thought it couldn’t be the end, it was too low-key, there had been no announcement, no fanfare to laud the finish.
But it was.
And it wasn’t smooth. Why else the uncertainty around Piatti’s surprise non-appearance at the end of season post-mortem in front of the media? Pleasingly, days later, things settled down and compromises were reached, but Stade Saputo never did get the chance to say farewell, or thanks, to its greatest-ever performer.
Clearly and to be fair, even if something had been arranged, with Coronavirus it could not have taken place, but some serious thought must now really go into how Montreal recognizes this player’s scintillating contribution to its sporting landscape.
The Impact will go a long way before another player in the Bleu/Blanc/Noir can put so many bums on the blue seats of Stade Saputo, then lift them off again with pleasing regularity, through the swivel of a hip, a drop of the shoulder, or an explosive finish, dagger-like, through the heart of some hapless opposition.
It may be equally as long before anyone comes close to matching his tally of 79 goals and contribution of 43 assists (both, all comps).
So once all pandemic concerns disappear, what better way to recognize the stardust he sprinkled all over Stade Saputo and MLS fields afar by bringing Nacho Piatti back to play one last time on the grass where he scored more goals than any other?
The protagonists seem obvious, a match involving the two clubs for whom he scored most goals throughout his career, one where he won four MVPs and the other a continental championship: Montreal Impact v San Lorenzo de Almagro.
No-one who saw this maestro play, and remember, even in his last injury-plagued season he scored the only goal which contributed to the Impact winning the 2019 Canadian Championship, would begrudge such an occasion for player and fans alike.
He could even play a half for each side. Now how fitting an occasion would that be?
Please take our poll. Would you like to see Piatti back playing at Stade Saputo one last time and a fitting opportunity for the Montreal soccer public to say farewell?
Would you like to see Nacho Piatti back playing at Stade Saputo one last time and a fitting opportunity for the Montreal soccer public to say farewell?
This poll is closed