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Montreal Impact lack ideas on and off field in 25th anniversary match

May 21, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) gets a red card from an official during the first half of the game against the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Impact’s 25th anniversary game was set up perfectly. 

On a national holiday, a gorgeous Monday afternoon, Stade Saputo was sold out, brimming with excitement. And the visitors, a star-studded but struggling LA Galaxy, were there for the taking.

To make the situation even more favorable, Zlatan Ibrahimović got sent off before halftime and the Impact played up a man the majority of the game. Now they win for sure, one had to think. But in the second half, Ola Kamara easily got in behind the Impact’s makeshift back line to finish past goalkeeper Evan Bush, and that was enough for the Galaxy to come away with the three points. 

In the end, the 25th anniversary could not have gone much worse. 

Here are three things from the game. 

Impact’s biggest problem? The attack

There’s been so much discussion this season about how the Impact are bad at defending, and with reason. They are on pace to beat last year’s all-time MLS record, set by Minnesota United, for most goals conceded in a season (70 in 34 games — the Impact have given up 27 in 12).

But the biggest problem for the Impact is when they have the ball. Starting from the first passes out of the back, their attacks lack organization. In the final third, there isn’t enough quality.

Ignacio Piatti has scored or assisted on 11 of the team’s 14 goals. If he’s not creating chances out of nothing, the Impact don’t look like they’re going to score — they’ve been blanked in three consecutive games.

The priority for the summer transfer window needs to be attacking players, and a center forward first and foremost.

What’s the vision?

As part of the 25th-anniversary celebrations, the Impact held a press conference before the game with owner Joey Saputo and director of international relations Nick De Santis, as well as former players and staff. They reminisced on past successes and tried to regale the media with amusing stories and anecdotes. But when asked about where they see the Impact 25 years from now, their responses lacked. De Santis talked about “the sky being the limit” for MLS and the league becoming one of the best in the world within the next decade. If that’s the case — and this correspondent was similarly bullish — how are the Impact going to remain competitive? What needs to be done? What needs to improve? 

These are pressing questions in light of the Impact’s struggles, particularly over the last two seasons, but also in general since joining MLS in 2012.

As things currently stand, the Impact are the sixth biggest spenders in MLS, but are last when it comes to points per game and, according to Saputo, 21st in the league in revenue.

Ola Kamara wasted on outside

One note about the Galaxy, who looked pretty horrendous against the Impact despite winning the game: How sad is it to see a striker of Ola Kamara’s quality being wasted on the wing?

Kamara is a modern No. 9. He can score with both feet or in the air, he’s got some size and he’s also got speed. He can even take players on one-v-one when necessary. Not many center forwards in MLS can score the kind of goal he did Monday.

The Swedish national team has played better without Ibrahimović, and the Galaxy probably would too. Unfortunately for them, it’s unlikely to happen, given the Swede’s status. Luckily for coach Sigi Schmid, Kamara doesn’t seem like the type to complain. But judging by the body language of the other players at Stade Saputo, there seems to be a lot of unhappy campers on the Galaxy team right now. 

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