When your team plays away on a beautiful day, on a great natural-grass surface, little wind, a big field (120 by 77 yards), against a very experienced player like Piatti, you’re probably going to have problems. The Revs’ solution of merely keeping a close eye on him did not work, as he had far too much freedom to make plays in a number of ways, his most effective being the penetrating pass, a skill enhanced by the near-perfect playing conditions. All this, I am sure, was predictable by the Rev staff, but they had no workable plan to shut him down. He scored one goal and assisted three others between extra time at the end of the first half and the 68th minute of the second—a jam-packed 25 minutes. At that time, he was withdrawn.
His contributions were not limited to points on the scoreboard. His pass in the 6th minute to Anthony Jackson-Hamel nearly caused a penalty shot, when Claude Dielna whacked him pretty solidly in the area, contact that very likely would have been called a foul outside the box. In the 32nd minute, he found himself briefly alone with the ball in the area, totally unmarked, and nearly scored. Just before the second goal, Jackson-Hamel hit the upright after receiving a sweet through-ball from, once again, an unmarked Piatti.
Piatti was, is, and probably will continue to be the absolute key player for the Impact. He requires extra attention from opposing defenses. With this in mind, what can a team do to stop him? One possible solution is to have someone mark him closely as soon as he gets within 40 or even 50 yards of your goal. I suggest one of the defensive midfielders, Luis Caicedo (a player who, strangely, had little influence on this game, but is young, fast, and agile) or Wilfried Zahibo (who’s a little more experienced and also physically talented). Both players have the physical qualities to do the job; the main question is whether or not either player (or anyone else on the Revs) has the ability to concentrate mentally on this demanding one-on-one job for 90 minutes. One small lapse in concentration may result in an opponent’s goal. Any defender, on the other hand, who succeeds in keeping a team’s star playmaker from assisting or scoring, has entered MVP territory, having neutralized the other team’s generalissimo and thrown their game plan on the scrap heap. Would all this improve your team’s chances of winning the game? Of course it would.
Hard to figure why the Revs gave Piatti so much free sailing.