Montreal Impact beat Vancouver 3-2 in the Major League, with Argentine midfielder Ignacio Piatti the star.
The Impact didn't have Designed Player Didier Drogba, but as it turned out, they didn't need him. Piatti scored twice, assisted on a third, and proved the Impact were right to reject the "transfer offer in excess of $5 million" dollars, which they received from an unnamed Latin American club during the close season.
"In different moments, he made it look easy," said Montreal manager Mauro Biello. "He's a first-class player, and when he plays like that, it's hard to defend."
The first of these moments came in the 19th minute. Piatti effortlessly wove through a Vancouver defence that included Kianz Froese, Christian Bolaños, Fraser Aird, and Kendall Waston. Aird overcommitted, Waston slipped, and Piatti fired it home.
The second moment was a 42nd minute pass from the half-way line to Dominic Oduro. The normally reliable Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted took responsibility for it. "It was all me," said Ousted. "I should have communicated better to Kendall (Waston). I tried to slide, and ended up sliding past the ball." Oduro's not likely to score an easier goal all season.
Ousted went on to say that, "on a personal level, that's some of the worst I've played as a Whitecap. I'm gutted for the team. I thought we did well in periods today. I thought we scored two good goals, but we ended up giving three away, which is not a nice start to the season."
Jordan Harvey grabbed one back for the home side, mere seconds from half-time. He got on the other end of a Pedro Morales dead ball, but the celebrations were minimal. Vancouver still had a lot of work to be done in the second half.
Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush was at his very best in the 68th minute when he faced an Octavio Rivero header. Bush had to stretch every sinew to stop the Uruguayan striker, but that's the kind of pain he'll relish in the morning. "It was instinctive. I put myself in a spot that you train to put yourself in," said Bush of the save.
"I thought (Octavio Rivero) played very well, but he didn't score a goal," said Vancouver manager Carl Robinson. "The keeper made some good saves, he hit the cross bar. Sometimes that happens. If he wasn't getting into the area to create the chances, then I'd have a concern, but I've got no concerns with Octavio."
As the match progressed, Robinson brought on Kekuta Manneh for Cristian Techera, Blas Perez for Kianz Froese, and finally, Kudo Masato for Octavio Rivero. Each of them brought something new to Vancouver's attack, but Ignacio Piatti wasn't done yet.
Dominic Oduro found the Argentine in the 88th minute. Pedro Morales did his level best to mark Piatti, but the Argentine was still able to find the back of the net. Kendall Waston pulled one back in the 93rd minute, but it was too little, too late.
"We gifted Montreal the win today. That's an honest assessment," said Robinson. "When you give three bad goals away, you don't win games."
"We gave ourselves a shot just before halftime with an excellent free kick," added Robinson, whose side beat Montreal in the final of the CSA Cup last year. "We kept knocking on the door. Unfortunately, in the second half, we couldn't open it."
Looking ahead to Vancouver's next match, an away fixture with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, Jordan Harvey reflected on how the 'Caps are using 2015 as a motivator. "We use that a lot," said Harvey. "It's a different team, I think we have a better team this year. Hopefully, we go to Kansas City and get a result... get on a run. That's all we can go on."
After Sporting, Vancouver head to Seattle for a Cascadia Cup match with the Sounders on March 19th, before returning home for a March 26th meeting with the Houston Dynamo.