And maybe it’s best that the Impact looks forward. Because, after a 1-0 loss to the NSC Minnesota Stars Friday night, it looks more and more like the current season is a write-off.
Yes, the Impact did announce that Ryan Pore, last year’s MVP of USSF-2, will join the team on loan from the Portland Timbers for the remainder of the season. But, his arrival will likely be too little too late.
Impact Sporting Director Nick De Santis and owner Joey Saputo might be best off sweeping this season under the PR rug, and play out the string. The Impact has just 13 games left this season and trail the Fort Lauderdale Strikers by six points for the final playoff spot.
Again, the Impact, sad owners of the worst offence in the league, with just 14 goals scored in 17 games (and remember, Montreal scored five in one game against FC Edmonton; take that away and its nine goals in 16 games), went through an entire half without threat.
The Minnesota crowd wasn’t thrilled by what was a pedestrian first half, livened only by a controversial foul call on Impact defender Hassoun Camara. Impact keeper Evan Bush and Camara both received yellow cards for complaining and time wasting. After several minutes, Neil Hlavaty took and aggressive run at the ball and sent Bush the wrong way for the only goal of the game.
The Impact came to life in the second half and put a lot of pressure on the Stars. English midfielder Ian Westlake, playing his second NASL game, was effective getting balls into danger spots, and the Impact looked to exploit Mignane Diouf’s pace on the left side.
And the Impact created great chances, but Warren was the measure of them all. In fact, after watching Warren salvage a 1-1 draw with FC Edmonton a couple of weeks ago, you’d have to wonder if the Stars’ shot-stopper is the best in the league.
Marco Terminesi was able to find some free space in the Stars’ penalty area, but Warren was able to deny the chance at the near post.
An Antonio Ribeiro free kick found teammate Nevio Pizzolitto in the danger area, but the ball grazed off the top of Pizzolitto’s head and went just wide.
But Warren saved the three points in the 85th; Impact striker Eduardo Sebrango did a 360 spin with the ball at his feet and got behind the Stars’ defenders. Warren recognized the danger, charged at Sebrango, and blocked the shot. A rebound attempt was cleared off the line.
Yes, you could argue that, with all the chances created in the second half, that the Impact deserved a draw or better. But you could just as easily wonder why the team performed so lazily in the first half. The Impact have to learn to take the initiative, not to wait for adversity.
Or, maybe it’s just too late for this team to learn any lessons.