MONTREAL – As Ignacio Piatti walked toward the Montreal Impact training field, a father and his two children sprang up from the stairs they were sitting on. Phones up. Pictures. Chit-chat.
One week in, and the “Piatti Effect” is in full force in Montreal.
To be fair, dad and his kids were clad in the red and blue of San Lorenzo, Piatti’s former club. But still, there’s actually something to the Argentine playmaker’s effect on his new team, and it’s not mumbo-jumbo. Impact captain Patrice Bernier said so.
Piatti’s arrival, Bernier told reporters on Tuesday morning, has brought a positive breath of fresh air.
“Nacho’s here, and he’s got this capacity to calm things down and create space – we saw it right away with Marco [Di Vaio], there were sparks,” Bernier said.
Piatti was taken off 54 minutes into his debut Saturday against the Chicago Fire, before Di Vaio’s late winner in the 1-0 victory, but he showed his true self four days later against FAS in El Salvador. His ruthless combinations with Di Vaio lifted Montreal to a two-goal lead within eight minutes in the CONCACAF Champions League game the Impact won 3-2.
“That game in Salvador, I’m sure that, after 10 minutes, everybody thought we’d score four or five,” Bernier said. “[Three] games in, you can already see his quality.”
Head coach Frank Klopas admits that Piatti labored against Chicago due to his travel from Argentina. Piatti actually fared well for 54 minutes, though, providing simple passes inside and helping out defensively as right back Lovel Palmer pushed high up the field.
“But you can just see very good moments in the FAS game, and even [in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls], just a lot better, comfortable with the ball, he’s adjusting to the speed of play,” Klopas said. “He’s getting the fitness level. Coming here, he traveled a long [way], but then the last week was a very long week for us. Once he gets his legs under him, and the more he gets used to the team, he’s definitely a special player that can make a difference.”
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What remains to be seen is where exactly he’ll make that difference.
Klopas played Piatti on the left in his first two games but moved him underneath the forward against the Red Bulls. Asked about Piatti’s role going forward, Klopas said it would involve freedom to interchange.
“When he comes underneath or he’s got the ability to rotate with Andres [Romero] and Dilly [Duka], when we can get these guys tucking in, it makes it really difficult for defenders,” Klopas said. “Does the right back come in? Does the center back step in the hole to mark him? If we can find them in those pockets and between the midfield line and the back line and tucking in with our outside backs pushing up, we’re going to be dangerous.”