The all-Canadian rivalry between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact lived up to its billing on Sunday, and it was the Impact who emerged as 3-2 victors after a frantic second half at BC Place.
The Impact’s Ignacio Piatti put on a clinic by completing a brace and assisting Dominic Oduro on his goal. Jordan Harvey and Kendall Waston scored for Vancouver.
The Whitecaps peppered the Impact goal throughout the second half as they searched for an equalizer, but the visitors held on for a deserved win.
Here are three thoughts on the match.
Didier Drogba was notably absent on Sunday, but he was not missed because Piatti was absolutely lethal.
The Argentine playmaker was Montreal’s primary goal-scorer in this game. Piatti kept finding space on the left flank, which is what led to his first strike.
Piatti darted into the Whitecaps penalty area, evaded Kianz Froese, Fraser Aird and Christian Bolanos, then left Waston crawling on the ground before calmly slotting the ball past goalkeeper David Ousted.
The 31-year-old was also pinging long balls from a deep-lying role whenever possible. One of the passes forced Ousted to come off his line, leaving the goalkeeper in no man’s land, and allowed Oduro to score in the open goal.
The Copa Libertadores winner clinched the Impact win. Once again, Piatti cut in from the left wing before finding the bottom right corner with his shot, capping a magnificent performance.
Evan Bush comes up big for the Impact
Piatti will likely dominate the headlines, although his goalkeeper deserves some plaudits as well.
The Whitecaps were trailing 2-1 in the second half, but could not defeat Evan Bush. The shot-stopper’s best save came in the 68th minute when he somehow got a hand on a powerful Octavio Rivero header.
However, Bush’s anticipation was also on point. Rivero was in on goal on a couple of occasions, but the Impact goalkeeper was able to foresee and counteract these breakaways without surrendering a penalty.
Vancouver finished with 21 shots to Montreal’s 11. Ten of the Whitecaps’ attempts were on target. A couple of those would have been goals if it wasn’t for Bush.
The Whitecaps are still gelling
Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson handed full competitive debuts to right-back Fraser Aird and winger Christian Bolanos. Kianz Froese earned his second MLS start beside Matias Laba in the heart of midfield.
Aird, Bolanos and Froese experienced some rough moments and a handful of promising ones as well, but that is to be expected with debuting players and youngsters.
Rivero and Ousted are more culpable for the loss. The forward attempted more shots (six) than any other player and failed to score. The Dane’s howler prior to the second goal was also unexpected.
It’s clear that the Whitecaps have yet to gain chemistry. Robinson added five new players and traded key starters like Steven Beitashour and Gershon Koffie, so a slow start is to be expected.
The Whitecaps began the 2015 campaign with a 3-1 loss to Toronto FC at home. Vancouver finished second in the Western Conference and qualified for the conference semifinals later in the season. These disappointing individual performances are likely just one-offs.
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