It was a bright, beautiful Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining, the birds where chirping, and everyone was getting ready to head to the Olympic Stadium for Impact’s first home match of the season. Oh, wait. Let me start again. It was a cold, dark, blizzard-like Friday night, when fans received the news that they were all dreading, Impact Montreal’s home opener has been delayed until Sunday, due the amount of snow on the stadium roof.
On the bright side, even with the day delay, the attendance was the highest in MLS for the week. Over 27 000 fans showed up to cheer on our boys in blue (Minus the few Sounders fans that made the trip). It was an amazing feeling, seeing the fans pour into the stadium dressed in blue, holding flags, banners, and chanting. I, on the other hand, was dressed in blue, sitting in front of my screen, receiving multiple pictures, and chanting with my dog. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, today will be a tough match, but we can do it. It’s our first home match. Today will be different. Wow, I was so terribly wrong.
Our hopes fell 8 minutes into the first half when Sounders Lamar Neagle’s header caused Impact’s goal keeper Troy Perkins an unlucky own goal. Unfortunately, our luck didn’t increase from there. It was a boring first half with little opportunity for an equalizer. It had left me wondering what changes Klopas would make in the second half.
To my surprise, the changes made in the second half had a lot in common with how the team has played so far this season, dull. Don’t get me wrong, it was great seeing Heath Pearce healthy and on the pitch, but when we are down 2 goals, it is not the change I would have made. I was truly expecting to see Santiago Gonzalez subbed on early in the second half. When that didn’t happen, I was a little concerned. There was a lot of hype into the signing of Gonzalez and that hype has worn off. What happened to the next best, “up and coming” Argentine youngster that we were all raving about? He has left me shaking my head in disappointment. With such little pitch time, it is really hard to predict whether he will improve or be the flop of the season.
After a couple of chances from Obafemi Martins, he finally hit the back of the net. Shortly into the second period, the Sounders were up 2-0. Impact had quite a few chances taken away by Seattle’s defence.
Unfortunately, those chances are not enough. We are in desperate need of a finishing player. Felipe and Mapp have shown the ability to create the chances, but we need more strength up top. We cannot rely on DP Marco Di Vaio. He is not the final piece to an already completed puzzle. Truth is, Impact have dumped an uncompleted puzzle in the table and are attempting to pass it off as a piece of art. Yes, with the return of Marco Di Vaio it will give us strength up top, but we cannot use him as the magic winning potion. Bottom line, Impact needs to sign a strong, mature, and well developed offensive player.
Our defence was decent against the Sounders. Eric Miller continues to show remarkable improvement every time he steps onto the pitch. They forced Seattle to minimal chances, which kept this game at 2-0. Before you all start scratching your heads wondering why I am pointing out our defence as a positive, remember that I said decent, which is far from perfect, not even in the same family as good. With the Heath Pearce thrown into the mix, I think our defence will improve. We have the defensive heads to do it, we just need to find the perfect flow.
On Saturday, March 29 at 4:00 EST vs Philadelphia Union, DiVaio and Romero will return. What changes will Klopas make? Will Gonzalez receive more pitch time? Better yet, does he deserve it? It is early in the season, and we all knew before the season began that it was going to be a rough year. Let’s hope that changes are going to be made quickly or this could be a much longer season than any of us could have anticipated.
(image courtesy of impactmontreal.com)