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3 things we learned as the Montreal Impact easily beat D.C. United 4-2 in MLS Cup Playoffs

Ignacio Piatti was the star of the game as Montreal completely outclassed D.C. United.

MLS: Montreal Impact at D.C. United Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The match started badly for D.C. United and got worse as their MLS Playoff run ended after just one match, losing 4-2 to the Montreal Impact thanks to a fantastic performance from Ignacio Piatti amidst a terrible first half for United.

The start of the match was utterly disastrous for D.C., giving up a soft corner kick in the fourth minute, then watching in horror as Laurent Ciman found a huge pocket of space right in front of goal to tap the ball in. Bill Hamid tried to get over to cover Ciman’s shot, but with United appearing as though they were committing to keeping from scoring at the near post and with no one properly covering the far side, he was too far away and helpless to try to stop Ciman’s shot.

D.C. United tried to respond and did improve as the first half went on, but they struggled for any kind of consistency in the final third in front of Montreal’s goal and couldn’t find a way to score an equalizer before the halftime whistle. Instead, it was Montreal scoring their second goal just before the half, with Piatti serving up an absolutely sublime pass that beat four D.C. defenders and found Matteo Mancosu running behind his defender to poke it past Hamid with ease.

The second half actually started decently for D.C. United, who got forward a bit more aggressively and tried to make something happen in their favor for once, but it was again Montreal who made the most of a scoring chance, making it 3-0 just before the hour mark when Mancosu scored on an excellent header to all but seal the game for the Canadian side.

Things just didn’t work for D.C. United in this game. They didn’t work at the start of the game, they didn’t work in the middle parts of the game, and they didn’t work at the end, consolation goals from Lamar Neagle and Taylor Kemp aside. They went down early and didn’t respond well, and the Montreal Impact are going to face the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals because of it. Full credit to the Impact: they played magnificently and took full advantage of the opportunities presented to them. They played to win, and D.C. United had no answers for them.

DC United: Bill Hamid; Nick DeLeon, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, Taylor Kemp; Lloyd Sam (Lamar Neagle 60’), Jared Jeffrey (Marcelo Sarvas 46’), Robert Vincent, Luciano Acosta (Julian Büscher 64’), Patrick Nyarko; Patrick Mullins

Goals: Neagle (88’), Kemp (90’+3)

Montreal Impact: Evan Bush; Hassoun Camara, Victor Cabrera, Laurent Ciman, Ambrosie Ayongo; Dominic Oduro, Patrick Bernier (Callum Mallace 71’), Marco Donadel (Johan Venegas 78’), Hernan Bernardello, Ignacio Piatti (Wandrille Lefevre 84’); Matteo Mancosu

Goals: Ciman (4’), Mancosu (43’, 58’), Piatti (90’)

Three things we learned

D.C. United started as poorly as they could have

Just like we saw with Toronto FC on Wednesday night, D.C. United started very slow and very nervously. Unlike what we saw with Toronto, though, United gave up a very early goal, with Ciman being given entirely too much freedom in front of goal on a corner kick — one D.C. never should have conceded in the first place — and scoring with ease. The home side looked unsure of themselves and how they could hang with their opponents, and that lack of confidence hurt them early, giving them a huge hole to dig out of.

They responded decently, but even aside from the goal, Montreal had the far better early scoring chances while D.C. were only able to put together a few half-chances to find an equalizer. Their touches in the final third were too heavy, and at times in the opening half hour they over-committed to the attack and left themselves exposed to the counter attack, openings that the Impact happily took. Then that Piatti assist happened, and the game was essentially over for United before halftime.

Basically, nothing went particularly well for DCU early in the match, and the Montreal Impact won the match and advanced in the MLS Playoffs because of that bad start.

Ignacio Piatti is the truth

All throughout the match, Piatti was leaving D.C. United defenders spinning around looking lost and confused. He was the standout star of the game, and to show you just how very, very good he was, I’m just going to leave this right here:

Good lord. That pass is almost too good to be real.

We feel bad for Bill Hamid

Look, no goalkeeper is going to draw much praise for being on the wrong side of a 3-0 scoreline. If you give up that many goals, it’s almost impossible to find much upside from the man in goal. But Bill Hamid didn’t actually play badly by any stretch of the imagination — in fact, if anything he kept Montreal from winning by even more goals.

What burned D.C. in the end was the fact that the men in front of Hamid who were, supposedly, playing defense for United were giving him no help at all. Nick DeLeon was absolutely humbled time and again by Piatti, Kemp fared little better against Dom Oduro, and Mancosu had his way with Bobby Boswell all night long. The only D.C. defender who had even a somewhat good night was Steve Birnbaum, and even his performance was only decent in comparison to his woeful teammates. If D.C. United want to be a better team next season, they desperately need to find a lot more defensive quality than they showed in this match.