MLS in Focus: Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti

Ig

by RYAN BRISTER
MLS Beat Writer

For American fans, no market in Major League Soccer is as remote as Montreal. Not only is it in a different country, but in a bilingual culture all its own. It takes something really big—like a run to the CONCACAF Champions League final— for the Impact to get mainstream attention.

Montreal’s CCL journey is done, and many MLS fans might not see them play again for a while. This is a shame, because they’re capable of playing some entertaining soccer. Key to that is Ignacio Piatti, their designated player in midfield. Piatti, 30 pulls the strings for the Impact attack.

On team sheets, Ignacio plays the number 10 role right under the striker. But Frank Klopas allows him the freedom to roam around a bit. This map of his distribution against Portland looks like that of a left-sided player.

IPM

Against Dallas, Piatti briefly popped up as the furthest-forward player in a sequence that ended well for him and Montreal. That’s him making the layoff for Jack McInerney.

IPA

That was Piatti’s second assist in as many weeks. In the first, against RSL, it was a pass from the right wing that did the trick.

IPA2

But wherever he pops up on the field, he’s capable of playing the sorts of balls that unlock defenses. This ball over the top led to a shot for McInerney against Dallas.

IPP

Piatti and McInerney were a deadly duo in Saturday’s game. The Argentinean constantly fed the young forward with opportunities. Watch how Piatti holds up his run here to force his defender to make a decision. Matt Hedges closes down on Piatti, leaving space in behind for McInerney, who makes a smart, diagonal run.

IPP4A

Montreal might just be rediscovering the form that made them competitive in the CCL. With help from Piatti, they’ve won two matches in a row, and they have a few games in hand on their Eastern Conference opponents. If they keep playing like this, don’t be surprised if you see them again in the playoffs.


Piatti is part of a growing group of foreign players who arrive in MLS with years left to spare in their careers. Sebastian Giovinco aside, these aren’t international-level players, but a step below that, and largely they are South American. North America offers reliable pay and security that often can’t be found Diego Valeri, for example, came to Portland looking for a safer place to raise his kids.

Until MLS reaches a point where every team can afford to throw around multi-million dollar contracts, these players will have a valuable place in the league. MLS might not be able to compete with the big leagues in Europe in the near future, but it should strive to become a destination league for players in the Americas.