Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti continued his scorching start to the 2016 Major League Soccer regular season and Impact forward Dominic Oduro scored his second goal in as many games as the Montreal Impact defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-0 in their home opener at the Stade Olympique (Olympic Stadium) in Montreal.
In a game that was closer than the scoreline suggested, the Impact capitalized on two Gideon Baah errors and a fantastic Evan Bush save to score three goals for the second-straight game. The Red Bulls created very few scoring chances and finished the game with only three shots on goal. While it is still very early in the season, Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch must be concerned with his side's lack of scoring impetus as well as his team's defensive frailties.
The Ignacio Piatti Show, Now Playing in Montreal
The Impact may not need forward Didier Drogba's services after all. Not with the way Piatti and Oduro have been playing over these last two games.
After a sluggish first half in which Montreal Impact right midfielder Lucas Ontivero's shot off the post was the only noteworthy scoring chance, both teams started the second half as they started the first: still trying to solve each other's defenses. But the match changed in the 57th minute, when Ontivero had to be subbed out and was replaced by Costa Rican midfielder Johan Venegas.
A minute after Venegas's introduction, the Impact finally broke the deadlock. After Red Bulls center back Gideon Baah's pass upfield was blocked by Venegas, Piatti pounced on the loose ball and sent a one-touch pass to a streaking Venegas. The substitute looked up and played a perfectly weighted pass across the Red Bull's 18-yard-box to a wide open Dominic Oduro.
The Ghanaian forward took a touch before passing the ball underneath goalkeeper Luis Robles and into the net. It was moment that Baah will certainly want back, and it changed the complexion of this game.
Red Bulls coach Marsch threw on forward Anatole Abang and midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips, brother of forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, to try and get the equalizer. The Red Bulls were agonizingly close to tying the game up in the 69th minute. A great bit of control by Bradley Wright-Phillips put him through on goal, and he unleashed a powerful left-footed shot. But just like last week against Vancouver, Impact goalkeeper Bush was up to the challenge, blocking the point-blank effort with his face to preserve the lead.
As many soccer fans will tell you, soccer is a cruel game sometimes. Moments after Wright-Phillips's shot was blocked, Impact right back Donny Toia dribbled upfield and saw a wide open Piatti sprinting past the halfway line. Red Bulls center back Baah was again caught out of position, and the Impact unleashed their bread and butter —the counterattack.
Toia's pass to Piatti split two Red Bulls defenders, and Piatti took the ball in stride and touched it past Red Bulls center back Karl Ouimette. With a wide open Oduro to his left, Piatti decided to go alone, and, as it turned out, he made the right decision. He coolly slotted the ball past a helpless Robles to give the Impact a 2-0 lead, and his goal all-but-guaranteed another three points for Impact manager Mauro Biello and his men.
The fun wasn't over yet, though. In the 93rd minute, Piatti received a standing ovation as he was subbed out for Montreal native Anthony Jackson-Hamel. Piatti must have transferred some of his offensive wizardry to the 22-year-old substitute, because just a minute later, Jackson-Hamel would score the game's final goal on an assist from Impact midfielder Harry Shipp.
Why the Chicago Fire traded Shipp, who now has two assists in two games for the Impact, the world may never know. Jackson-Hamel's goal was the last action of the game, and when the final whistle sounded, a huge cheer rang out at the Olympic Stadium as the Impact fans serenaded their team after another great performance.
Men of the Match
Montreal Impact: Midfielder Ignacio Piatti
The Argentine attacking midfielder had another ho-hum, goal-and-an-assist performance as he inspired the team to a 3-0 victory over a normally-strong New York Red Bulls side. Midfielder Venegas should also be given credit for providing the assist to Oduro's goal just a minute after coming on, but Piatti was the one who found Venegas in the buildup to Oduro's goal. Piatti's third goal in two games ended the contest, and just like last week, his accurate passing and calmness on the ball helped the Impact maintain possession and disrupt any Red Bulls momentum. If Piatti is able to stay healthy and continue his torrid form, the sky is the limit for this talented Impact side.
New York Red Bulls: Goalkeeper Luis Robles
The fact that the Red Bulls goalkeeper is this writer's man of the match should tell the reader all he or she needs to know about the Red Bulls' performance. Robles kept the game scoreless when he saved a 13th-minute, left-footed Piatti effort, and then kept the scoreline respectable when he blocked a point-blank Piatti shot in the 89th minute. The 31-year-old could do nothing to stop any of the Impact's three goals, and he was let down by a turnover-prone defense in front of him. The Red Bulls will need to find a way to eliminate those needless giveaways in their own half, or they will be ripped apart like they were in the second half of this game.
What's Next for Both Teams
The New York Red Bulls will welcome the Houston Dynamo to Red Bull Arena next Saturday at 7:00 PM EST. The Red Bulls hope to have Designated Player (DP) Gonzalo Veron back in the starting lineup, and will look to get their first win of the season.
The undefeated Montreal Impact will look to make it three wins in three games when they travel to Frisco, Texas to take on FC Dallas next Saturday at 9:00 PM EST. Forward Didier Drogba may make his season debut for the Impact, and MLS fans won't want to miss this clash between two MLS Cup contenders.