Ignacio Piatti

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Montreal loses Piatti for another 8-12 weeks

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Montreal’s lofty hopes just took a major hit, with annual Player of the Season candidate Ignacio Piatti lost for 8-12 weeks with a ligament injury.

Piatti, 34, has scored 75 goals for the Impact since arriving from San Lorenzo in 2014, chipping in 34 assists to boot. He scored 16 or more goals in each of the previous three seasons, including a 16+11 campaign last year.

[ MORE: U.S. U-20s move on ]

He scored thrice in the club’s first three matches this season before a knee injury cost him the next 10. He returned for two matches before this current flare-up.

The Impact have dealt with Piatti’s absence well, sitting two points back of East-leading DC United. They have a seven-point lead on eight-place Toronto FC, who have played three less matches.

Saphir Taidir becomes even more in-focus for Montreal during Piatti’s absence, though getting him back for the stretch run would be a nice boon for Remi Garde.

An infuriating attempt at the 2018 MLS Best XI

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It occurs to me that projecting an MLS Best XI for this year is tougher than its been in some time.

In truth, it’s probably been growing in that manner on an annual basis. Shoot, look at last year’s post on the topic.

It’s especially difficult to narrow down your attackers if you want an XI to be representative of anything close to a unit you’d place on field.

[ MORE: Champions League Weds. wrap ]

Consider that the league has three 20-goal scorers, none who could be considered anything close to a midfielder, and six players with double digits goals and assists.

Let’s start with the necessities.

Forwards: The XI could not look remotely rational without Josef Martinez’s 30-goal record season, and there’s on debate that Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s 22 goals in 26 matches rates.

So there’s two forwards, which means you need to exclude all but one of the following players:

  • Wayne Rooney — 12 goals, six assists, 19 matches
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips — 20 goals, 7 assists, 31 matches
  • Carlos Vela — 13 goals, 10 assists, 27 matches

And, by the way, Adama Diomande has 12 goals in 17 matches and David Villa 13 in 22. Not bad.

Midfielders: Miguel Almiron, Ignacio Piatti, and Nicolas Lodeiro have had out of this world campaigns, as has Alphonso Davies. Both Davies and Piatti are unlikely to make the playoffs, and should that matter? Orlando’s Yoshi Yotun and Mohamed El-Munir (a defender) have been amongst the best at their spots, but their team was terrible.

Borek Dockal, Luciano Acosta, Lodeiro, and NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez have 15 assists or more. Sebastian Giovinco and Darwin Quintero are just off the pace despite playing 27 and 26 games on bad teams.

Dockal is averaging an assist in two of three matches this season, and Piatti.

Piatti!

Defenders: This one’s difficult because you need at least three and this league is like the Dutch Eredivisie on steroids (Even that league only had one 20-goal scorer last season).

There’s a bit of cheating in including Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi, the influential right back who also plays advanced at times and also guarantees us an SKC man on the roster. And Matt Besler is a better positional fit, but Zusi feels more necessary.

It feels like either Aaron Long or Tim Parker should represent the Red Bulls, and Walker Zimmerman has reclaimed his elite form with LAFC.

Goalkeepers: Tim Melia and Luis Robles both pace the league in clean sheets with 13, while Andre Blake of Philadelphia and Evan Bush have thrived on… less impressive units. Bush has faced 181 shots, more than all but one goalkeeper, and has made a league-high 130 saves in keeping Montreal alive.

Conclusion: Look, we’re going to have to try and outscore the other team now, aren’t we? And we’re going to lose. But it’s going to be fun.

I’ve got it down to 10 players, only repeating two teams (Red Bulls and Atlanta).

There’s no one from Dallas, who deserves a man, nor NYCFC. Plus  we’ve got two players who could miss the playoffs in Zlatan and Piatti, but it’s crazy not to include them. It just is.

So who gets our 11th slot? A stable center mid? Vela to make it a 3-4-3 and a third team with two slots?

Robles (RBNY)

Zusi (SKC) — Zimmerman (LAFC) — Long (RBNY)

Almiron (ATL) — Piatti (MTL) — Dockal (PHI) — Lodeiro (SEA)

Vela (LAFC) —  Ibrahimovic (LAG) — Martinez (ATL)

Juventus wins MLS All-Star Game in PKs

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The MLS All Star Game couldn’t be decided over 90 minutes in Atlanta, and Bradley Wright-Phillips missed the lone penalty kick as Juventus ran out winners.

Juventus opened the scoring off a set piece, with Andrea Favilli nodding home in the 21st minute.

Josef Martinez leveled score on a goofy play which found Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny all over the place.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Martinez knocked a cross down to Carlos Vela, whose shot was parried by Szczesny. The goalkeeper couldn’t find his feet to track the loose ball, and Ignacio Piatti headed the ball back across the six.

Martinez got his head to it for 1-1 (video below).

The final 15 minutes saw the teams angling for a winner, with Diego Valeri denied by Mehdi Benatia goal line clearance and Juve’s Leandro Fernandes sending an arrow just over the bar.

History of MLS All Star Game
1996: East 3-2 West
1997: East 5-4 West
1998: USA 6-1 World
1999: East 4-6 West
2000: East 9-4 West
2001: East 6-6 West
2002: MLS 3-2 USMNT
2003: MLS 3-1 Chivas Guadalajara
2004: East 3-2 West
2005: MLS 4-1 Fulham
2006: MLS 1-0 Chelsea
2007: MLS 2-0 Celtic
2008: MLS 3-2 West Ham United
2009: MLS 1-1 Everton (Everton wins in PKs)
2010: MLS 2-5 Manchester United
2011: MLS 0-4 Manchester United
2012: MLS 3-2 Chelsea
2013: MLS 1-3 AS Roma
2014: MLS 2-1 Bayern Munich
2015: MLS 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
2016: MLS 1-2 Arsenal
2017: MLS 1-1 (2-4 PKs) Real Madrid
2018: MLS 1-1 (3-5 PKs) Juventus

MLS Three Things: NY is red, Piatti is good, Vancouver is unlucky (video)

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A busy early afternoon in Major League Soccer has put three results in the books, and it’s fair to say at least two of the three score lines will raise eyebrows around the league.

[ MORE: Sir Alex in intensive care ]

New York is red

Kaku scored a goal and registered two assists as the New York Red Bulls worked New York City FC 4-0 in the New York Derby on Saturday.

Patrick Vieira will be livid with his NYCFC squad, who was totally outplayed at Red Bull Arena. Kaku scored in the second minute and assisted on Florian Valot’s fourth minute goal.

Bradley Wright-Phillips nodded home in the 35th minute before Derrick Etienne Jr. rounded out the scoring with 11 minutes to play. The Red Bulls pull five points behind first place NYCFC with the win.

Check out BWP’s goal: It’s a passing and crossing drill.

Piatti stems the bleeding

Maybe it’s his station in Quebec, but Ignacio Piatti has oh-so-quietly become the most overlooked superstar in Major League Soccer.

As bad as Montreal has been this year, Piatti grabbed them by the scruff of the neck and dragged the Impact to a 4-2 win over a very decent New England Revolution side on Saturday.

Piatti had a goal and three assists, all of them primary helpers, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel scored twice in Montreal’s 4-2 win.

Jackson-Hamel was called out by coach Remi Garde earlier this week for his performances in the absence of Matteo Mancosu, and he did quite well in the wake of his boss’ criticism.

Shuttling the door

Vancouver Whitecaps are one of the best teams in the West, and Minnesota United is… not quite there yet. But Miguel Ibarra scored a 60th minute goal and veteran backstop Bobby Shuttleworth was on his game to steal all three points at home on Saturday.

Minnesota was down a man for 40 minutes, and scored their goal with 30 minutes to play. The Caps  outshot Montreal 19-4, but Shuttleworth was there with seven saves in the win.

Check out this one!

LAFC erase 2-goal deficits to beat Montreal in 8-goal thriller

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): LAFC are, by definition, an expansion team; they are, to the eye, also very much an expansion team, in that they experience drastic mood swings from one game to the next and, on a number of occasions already this season, from one half to the next — or, as evidenced in Saturday’s 5-3 win over Montreal Impact, one 15-minute period to the next. 2-0 down after 16 minutes, Larent Ciman wanted the ground to open up and swallow him whole as his return to Montreal wasn’t going so swimmingly. The Belgian proceeded to score a stunning free kick eight minutes later. Montreal went down to 10 men and Evan Bush saved a penalty in the 33rd minute. Ignacio Piatti completed his hat trick on 43 minutes to restore the two-goal lead. LAFC score four second-half goals to run away with all three points, racking up 26 shots (18 of which were on target) in the process. Through two games this weekend, MLS has seen 14 goals scored.

[ MORE: Sporting KC increase West lead with 6-0 win over Vancouver ]

Three Four moments that mattered

24′ — Ciman’s free kick just about bursts through the back of the net — If not for the net, this ball continues to slowly rise until it cross the U.S.-Canada border and begins to orbit the planet in outer space.

43′ — Piatti smashes past Miller for 3-1 — Piatti takes his hat trick with aplomb, letting the ball bounce across his body before pulling it back across the face of goal and just inside the far post.

52′ — Feilhaber picks out the top corner for 3-2 — The comeback is on… again.

83′ — Vela bags the winner from the spot — Bush denied Marco Ureña from the spot in the first half, and so nearly did it again in the 83rd, but Carlos Vela’s effort crept over the line to make it 4-3.

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Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Piatti (9′, 16′, 43′), Ciman (24′), Feilhaber (52′), Raitala (57′ – OG), Vela (83′ – PK), Blessing (89′)