Saphir Taïder and Nacho Piatti cancel out Villa’s brace

ST. PETERSBURG, Flordida – The Montreal Impact ended its training camp with a 2-2 draw against New York City FC, Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium. After Villa scored a brace, Saphïr Taider and Nacho Piatti equalized for Montreal.

“There is a lot to learn from this game,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “Coming back into the game shows this group’s character. This was the most difficult opponent we had to face since our preseason started. This team has players that know each other and that play well together. We created quite a few opportunities. We tried to change our game a little by being more offensive. We need to continue to work, but today’s game was a good learning experience.”

Unlucky goal in the first half

As early as the 12th minute, the Impact conceded an unlucky goal courtesy of David Villa, when Maximiliano Moralez stole the ball from a Bleu-blanc-noir defender. New York’s number 10 passed the ball to the Spanish forward, who expertly lobbed Evan Bush. The Impact still managed to impose its rhythm during this initial period, spending a lot of time in the Citizens’ final third and earning numerous corners. Montreal’s best opportunity came in the 26th minute, when Piatti found Mancosu alone behind the defense on a breakaway, but the Italian forward was stifled by New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

In the 39th minute, Evan Bush kept his team in the game when David Villa tried to go around him in the box. The American ‘keeper dove to block the initial shot, before getting a touch on the rebound and putting it off the post.

“We had the right mentality throughout the entire game,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “Even when we were behind by two, I thought we still had a good mentality. We were not afraid to tackle them and to go into duels. We were more aggressive than we were on Wednesday. It was a pretty equal game, but there is a lot to take out of coming back against a team like New York City FC. It says a lot about our character.”

Three goals in five minutes in the second half

In the 50th minute, on a free kick, David Villa doubled his team’s lead with a perfect shot that beat Bush to his right.

The Impact replied instantly. Víctor Cabrera started the attack and passed the ball to Raheem Edwards. With a flick, he passed the ball to Taïder, who took a touch before striking a left-footed shot off the post and into NYCFC’s net.

“It is very positive, coming back from two goals down,” said midfielder Saphir Taïder. “We did not give up, we stayed positive. With a little more accuracy and innovation, we could have scored another goal. We made amends after Wednesday’s game, we listened to what our coach said and put it into action. But we stayed in the right state of mind.”

The Bleu-blanc-noir continued its comeback and tied the game in the 55th minute. The team’s collective press forced Ronald Matarrita to make a mistake in his own box, where a surging Nacho Piatti stole the ball, dribbled past the ‘keeper and scored with his right foot.

“We were facing a really good team, we knew it was going to be our most difficult game,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “We conceded on a mistake, that was our fault. After that, a free kick is hard to stop. David Villa is a world class player. But we were great in responding with a goal. It was a good reaction from the team.”

Upcoming games

The Impact kicks off its season in the road in Vancouver on March 4 and Columbus on March 10, before playing its home opener on Saturday, March 17 at 3pm against its biggest rival, Toronto FC.


MTL- Evan Bush; Jukka Raitala (Daniel Lovitz 46’), Zakaria Diallo, Víctor Cabrera, Michael Petrasso; Samuel Piette, Ken Krolicki, Saphir Taïder; Nacho Piatti, Matteo Mancosu (Jeisson Vargas 71’), Raheem Edwards (David Choinière 80’).

Player on trial

NYC- Sean Johnson; Ronald Matarrita, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm; Jesus Medina, Yangel Herrera, Alexander Ring, Maximiliano Moralez; Rodney Wallace, David Villa (Asad Mackic 89’).


NYC – David Villa 12’
NYC – David Villa 50’
MTL – Saphir Taïder 51’
MTL – Nacho Piatti 55’


NYC – Jesus Medina 31’
NYC – Alexander Callens 35’
NYC – Anton Tinnerholm 66’
MTL – Matteo Mancosu 69’
MTL – Ken Krolicki 69’
NYC – David Villa 70’
MTL – Víctor Cabrera 87’