While the World Cup has been going on over in Russia very quietly our local MLS club has been putting together quite a streak of solid outings. Ok, ignore their mid-week tilt against NYFC, but besides that game their last 6 league games have been strong ones. They have won 5 out of the last 6 and relinquished precious few goals over that period plus clawed themselves into the playoff picture from way back in the pack.
It has helped that they have played some weaker sides like Orlando (x2), Colorado and San Jose. But you play who you are scheduled to play and you must earn full points against lesser opponents or that will hamper any hopes of making the playoffs. Especially when you play teams below you in the standings at home. Once again the belief that Saputo Stadium is becoming Fortress Saputo is creeping back into the city. The Impact have played that well on home turf of late. With this 2-0 victory they are on a roll of five straight victories at home.
For a team like Montreal their designated players have to make a difference and on this warm summer night that is exactly what happened. Montreal dominated the game in every respect. Possession, shots, corners, passes completed, scoring chances, etc. That was largely because of solid defense and the fact that their two big guns, Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider, controlled the game. Both scored goals and both we on the ball plenty.
The Impact started off things in the best kind of way with an early goal. In the 9th minute, midfielder Taider took a pass from Piatti with his left foot, created a little space between himself and defender Shea Salinas and then quickly with his right foot stroked a shot into the bottom corner of the net. It was Montreal’s second fastest goal of the season and Taider’s 4th. It has been quite a productive week for the Algerian native as he has notched 3 goals in 7 days.
It was not until the 74th minute that the Impact really put the game out of reach with a goal by Piatti as he curled a shot into the far side past a diving Andrew Tarbell. This despite the fact that they really should have been up 3 or 4-0 at that point. Several players on the Impact had chances to score. None more so than striker Matteo Mancosu. The only negative on the night was his play. He seems like a man who totally has lost confidence in what he is doing. Mancosu, who earns a good salary with team and so might be feeling some pressure as a result, has been coach Remi Garde’s main man up front of late and yet he seems unsure of himself whenever he is on the ball. He is taking a second to long to decide what to do and ends up give the ball away or having his shots blocked. Even when he has had free headers, usually his bread and butter, he has managed of late to mistime them or miss the net. The minutes are being given to him, but the goals are not coming.
This really highlights a desperate need of the team. A striker. The transfer window is open and Montreal has to find a striker out there. It is imperative if they want to stay in a playoff spot and then want to do something in the playoffs. There have been rumours floating around about different players. One of them is Frenchman and striker Jimmy Briand. The 32-year-old seems interested in coming to play in Montreal, but is still under contract with his Ligue 1 French side, Guincamp. We will wait and see what materializes, but they have to do something.
San Jose is, sorry to say this, not a very talented side. The only player who I recognized was their captain Chris Wondolowski, a man who is only five goals behind Landon Donovan for the MLS record. He did nothing in the game. Nothing that made him standout really. The only reason I noticed him and teammate Anibol Godoy was due to how frustrated they looked and how chippy they played. Both committed several hard fouls early in the game and attracted the attention of referee Joseph Dickerson. Godoy so much so that he earned himself a yellow card in the 1st half. Shortly after this he, in a very unusual move, was subbed out in the 41st minute by coach Mikael Stahre for Fatal Alashe. Godoy was obviously pissed as he went straight to the dressing room after coming off. In another weird move, Alashe himself did not last more than the last 4 minutes of the 1st half because at halftime he was replaced. Alashe and his coach obviously did not see eye to eye because they went at each other on the sidelines. A team in the midst of a bad season and the tension is obviously high with San Jose.
With the victory, Montreal is once again in a playoff position. In 6th place only one point behind 5th place New England, things are looking up in Montreal. Though it has to be stated that they have played two more games than New England and two more games than the team behind them, Philadelphia Union.
As is often the case starting in the month of July for the Impact, they have a rather heavy schedule coming up. They will play five games in the next two weeks. It will be a test of their depth, so yet another reason for management to attempt to sign players. Their next game is Wednesday against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Saputo Stadium as the first leg of two in the Canadian Championship semi finals.
-Officials: Referee: Joseph Dickerson
Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski, Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
4th Official: Sorin Stoica
VAR: Kevin Terry Jr.
-Goals: 1st Half:
8th minute: Montreal – Saphir Taider assisted by Ignacio Piatti and Matteo Mancosu
74th minute: Montreal – Ignacio Piatti assisted by Alejandro Silva
-Shots on Goal: Montreal – 2
San Jose – 2
-Corners: Montreal – 6
San Jose – 4
-Man of the Match: Ignacio Piatti – Montreal
-Final Score: Montreal – 2
San Jose – 0