I've already written about the Montreal Impact once this year, and I generally try to space these columns out a bit. Everybody deserves their turn under the microscope in this league of ours, which is based upon parity and continuity and the occasional flash of brilliance.
But I'm going to break my own rule here, because the Impact have been stupid good in the first two weeks of the season. Their 3-2 win at Vancouver in Week 1 was opportunistic and balanced and impressive, and their 3-0 whitewashing of the New York Red Bulls on Saturday afternoon was even better. Montreal are for real.
We're going to hear a bunch more about Ignacio Piatti in the days to come, which is appropriate since he's been the league's best player. And we're probably going to celebrate Dom Oduro a little bit – it's gratifying to see someone who's improved so much over his time in the league, even if he has bad taste in pizza. We know about Laurent Ciman, and we should also give a little bit of dap to Evan Bush for a pair of very, very nice performances.
But it's not just individual skill or big moments that have me so in love with this team. I'll actually make the argument that their collective patience in possession and passing nous is what's separated them.
Here is their passing map from minute 83 onward in Saturday's victory. Green lines are complete passes, yellow are key passes (passes that lead to a shot), and the blue line is an assist:
With the Red Bulls – the league's best high-pressing team – down 2-0 and desperate for a comeback, the Impact put on a clinic. They missed a grand total of 7 passes in 11 minutes of game action, for a completion rate of 92 percent during that time. And these were not simple passes, as they drove the ball to the midfield stripe and then beyond, wearing RBNY out before cracking them open for the coup de grace. In the process, they looked quite a bit like the great, Jason Kreis-era RSL teams that would absolutely demoralize teams with how they used the ball.
We've seen the Impact start a season hot before, back in 2013, but that was a mirage. That team was all about a deep bunker and a hot goalkeeper, and once Troy Perkins cooled off, Montreal fell back to earth.
This is not a mirage. Montreal are an excellent team, 11 men connected by the ball and their own intuition, playing the beautiful game as it's meant to be played.
Don't expect that to go away any time soon.