Montreal Impact vs. Seattle Sounders @ Olympic Stadium – March 11, 2017

AP_17071053785933-780x522With great achievement comes great expectations. Such is the case with this year’s Montreal Impact. They made it all the way to the MLS semi-finals last season and fans expect more of the same. It is a tough thing. Repeating success, that is. Both teams on this the evening of the Impact’s home opener are going through that right now. Seattle also had a great season last year. They were the champions. Both teams lost their first games of the 2017 season. Both were looking for their first points of the season and to get on the right path. Both are going to have to figure out how to deal with being thought to be at the front of the pack this season.

In their fist game of the season against San Jose the Impact was completely underwhelming. The mustered no shots on the opposition’s net. Produced preciously little offence. Plus defensively they showed themselves to be vulnerable defensively. They, like they did in the playoff series against Toronto FC last season, have plenty of trouble dealing with big, strong players. They get overwhelmed and physically manhandled.

Offensively, the quirky confines of the Big O should help out Montreal. With its artificial surface and extra width this should play right into their counterattack style. Plus the fact that they would have near 35,000 supportive, vocal fans behind them should put some jump in their step. Especially since they will be going on the road for three straight games.

90c2084a-06ca-11e7-ae41-8a339799fc20-780x609In the opening part of the 1st half Montreal was the better team. They owned the ball with Seattle getting precious few touches. Montreal just moved the ball around the field seemingly at will. It only took 17 minutes for them to open their scoring ledger for the season. It was Italian striker Matteo Mancuso’s, a man who in the off season signed a two year extension with the Impact, first (of hopefully many) of the season. Patrice Bernier, in his last season with the team, started it off playing the ball over to Nacho Piatti. Though he is known primarily for his dribbling abilities, Piatti has demonstrated some excellent passing capabilities. He played a perfectly weighted and timed throughball into the path of Mancuso’s run. Showing composure, the Italian went around Seattle keeper Stephan Frei before slotting the ball into the deserted cage.

Not long after the 2nd half start Montreal doubled their lead. Piatti did what he does best and dribbled the ball a long way before launching a shot into the open side of the net. It was a typical Piatti goal in that he had Mancuso to his left and it looked like he made a mistake not passing it to him, hanging onto the ball too long, but he suddenly moved to the right of the two Seattle defenders before launching a shot from just outside the box.

Montreal played well for 80 minutes or so and then could not withstand the late flurry by the Sounders. A missed tackle by Ciman, who was already on a yellow card,  resulted in a penalty shot which Nicolas Lodeiro scored on in the 83rd minute. All of a sudden it was tight collar time.

781709ec-06cc-11e7-ae41-8a339799fc20-780x501With the announced 4 minutes of stoppage time, Montreal continued to sit back. They were made to pay for this by Will Bruin, who had entered the game as a substitute in the game’s 85th minute. Cristian Roldan outmuscled Hernan Bernadello along the right flank and crossed the ball into the box. Jordan Morris got his head on it and the ball fell to Bruin, who deflated the hopes for victory of the Montreal fans.

A few minutes before Bruin’s equalizer, the Sounders scored another goal only to see it called back to a incorrect handball call on Jordan Morris by referee Jair Marrufo. Clint Dempsey put the ball in the back of the net, but the whistle had already been blown by Marrufo. After watching replays, it seems like the ball did not hit Morris’ hand, but his chest.

Montreal’s defense has shown itself to be a problem up to this point in the season. It is early, I know, but they are going to have to figure things out and quick if they want to go as far this season as they did last. The most obvious issue for me is that Laurent Ciman has not played nearly as well last season and so far this as he did in his first season. He seems slow and his tackles mistimed.

Though a draw against last season’s champs might on the surface seem like a good result, but after going up 2-0 the single point is most certainly a disappointment. They became too comfortable and just sat back waiting for the final whistle. Not showing any urgency. In their minds’ they had won the game inviting the Sounders to attack. Sitting back. Never works. Hopefully they learned their lesson about finishing out games.

The Impact’s next couple of games are on the road with their next one being at Yankee Stadium against FC New York next Saturday afternoon.

Game Stats:

-On-field Officials: Referee – Jair Marrufo

Linesmen – Cory Rockwell and Brian Poeschel

-Goals: 1st Half:

17th minute: Montreal – Matteo Mancuso assisted by Ignacio Piatti and Patrice Bernier

2nd Half:

51st Minute:  Montreal – Ignacio Piatti assisted by Patrice Bernier

83rd Minute:  Seattle – (pk) Nicolas Lodeiro

90th +4 Minute: Seattle – Will Bruin

-Shots on Goal:  Montreal – 5

Seattle – 4

-Corners:  Montreal – 1

Seattle – 6

-Attendance:  34,373

-Final Score:  Montreal – 2

Seattle – 2

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