Dzemaili primed to lead Montreal's playoff push: "We can go very, very far"

MONTREAL – Once again, Blerim Dzemaili helped the Montreal Impact weather the absence of all-star midfielder Ignacio Piatti.

With Piatti still sidelined but on the verge of returning from an adductor injury that has kept him out since June 27, Dzemaili scored the winning goal in Montreal's 2-1 victory over Philadelphia at Stade Saputo on Wednesday night.

Dzemaili, who joined the Impact from Bologna in May, has four goals and three assists in his past seven MLS games. He’s now racked up two goals and an assist in three games since Piatti was injured; IMFC won both games in which he scored. 

“Blerim, obviously he brings a ton of experience,” Montreal coach Mauro Biello said. “He's played at the highest level, national team, World Cups. He played in Italy at the highest level. He's a midfielder who finds pockets and finds spaces. He can score, he can pass.

“It becomes difficult to defend someone like that. The fact that he has a great shot, he's a midfielder and he already has four goals. It definitely helps us, helps our midfield. He scores big goals at the right moments.”

Piatti will likely be ready to return Saturday, when Montreal host FC Dallas for the second of seven home dates in the next nine games for IMFC (7:30 pm ET | TVAS in Canada, MLS LIVE in US).

Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush said Piatti and Dzemaili give Montreal one of the top tandems in the league.

“I think it's two of the better guys when you put them together for sure,” Bush said. “They understand each other well, that relationship's grown quickly, and we're happy about that. I think what Dzemaili brings to the table is something that brings guys away from Nacho.

“Now more guys are understanding what Blerim can do and what he can bring and so they can't let him strike from distance, they can't let him dribble through the heart of the defense because he's going to make you pay. So now a lot more guys are going to be paying attention to him as opposed to Nacho and it's going to open up more spaces for sure.”

The win pushed the Impact into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Union coming out of MLS’ Gold Cup break. Having arrived in Montreal straight from the conclusion of Serie A season, Dzemaili welcomed the downtime and sounds ready to fuel a postseason push.

“It's two years that I didn't really have a vacation and it was important to take off a little bit, just to spend some days with the family and not thinking about football because I have a lot of games in the legs,” said the Swiss international. “But it's OK. I just want to go on and to bring the team in the playoffs, and then I think we can go very, very far. But the first step we have to do is go in the playoffs.”