Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve Powell // @evejulia9

Saturday, April 14: 3-1 Loss

Watching Saturday’s match at Red Bull Arena, one would have guessed that the Montreal Impact were the team that had just played their hearts out on Tuesday and that the New York Red Bulls were the fresher team. However, it was just the opposite case. For a team who had spent much of the preseason emphasizing physical preparation, the Bleu-Blanc-Noir played a lethargic, sloppy second half, which saw them lucky to leave New Jersey having only conceded 3 goals.

Despite the debacle that had been last Friday’s match, Rémi Garde persisted with a 5-3-2 formation. Rudy Camacho received his first start in central defense, with Jukka Raitala shifting to the left wing-back position as Daniel Lovitz dropped to the bench. Alejandro Silva was given a more central attacking role in the midfield. Ignacio Piatti returned to the team, which was without their other Designated Player as Saphir Taïder was served his red card suspension.

Knowing that the Red Bulls had suffered an emotional loss to Chivas Guadalajara on Tuesday, Impact fans were cautiously optimistic that their team could pull out a result in a stadium where they had never won during the regular season.

The Impact’s match did not begin well, to say the least. In the 5th minute, Victor Cabrera gifted possession to the Red Bulls, and Bradley Wright-Phillips made his first of many successful runs behind the defense to score the opening goal. The theme of seemingly simple passes going to the opposition would continue throughout the duration of the match.

Thanks to Chris Duvall who saved a ball on the line, and Jeisson Vargas who equalized with a perfectly placed free kick, the Impact were fortunate to enter the locker room at halftime with a 1-1 scoreline.

Although the Impact had played inferior soccer for much of the first half, fans were optimistic that Garde would invigorate his players and adjust his tactics to allow for a more evenly matched second half. This could not have been further from the case. The Impact did not play like a team who wanted to leave Red Bull Arena with any points, instead, it seemed as though they allowed NYRB to put on a clinic.

The version of the team who emerged from the locker room was lackluster, disorganized and uninspired. Despite having three assigned central defenders on the pitch, it was defensive midfielder Samuel Piette attempting to track Kaku as he marauded into Bush’s area, who would score his first MLS goal.

On the third goal conceded by the Impact, nobody in blue moved as the ball was crossed low in front of the net, allowing Michael Murillo to tap it in effortlessly. Time and again, Evan Bush was left infuriated by the lack of defensive coverage, and rightfully so. It was largely thanks to several great saves made by him that the scoreline was not utterly humiliating.

The last two defeats and even the razor-thin victory in Seattle leave many questions that need to be answered, and soon. Is the coaching staff preparing tactics adequately? Were the new signatures not up to MLS level? Is the team as physically fit as they had touted themselves to be? What is to be said of their mental preparation?

The Impact finally returns home to Stade Saputo next Saturday to face LAFC. After Laurent Ciman’s shocking departure to the West Coast expansion side, he will undoubtedly return to Montréal with a point to prove. The Impact, on the other hand, will need to prove that they want to compete.

Featured image courtesy: @impactmontreal

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