Monday September 1st, 2014

In the midst of a seven-game losing streak that began in July, the Montreal Impact needed a spark. When Ignacio Piatti finally made his debut in August, the Impact won two of their next three games, including a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

Piatti scored both of his team’s goals in a breakout performance, drifting all over the field from his left-wing starting position. Despite playing wide, he wears the No. 10 shirt traditionally reserved for a team’s primary playmaker because that’s the role he plays.

The 29-year-old Designated Player from Argentina took four shots in the match, getting them all on target. On both of his goals, he dribbled by players inside the penalty area before firing into the back of the net.

First, he cut back on United States international Michael Parkhurst, finding the small pocket of space he needed to slot the ball in. For his second goal, Piatti patiently worked the ball toward the outside as Waylon Francis dove into two tackles, leaving the defender on the ground.

Piatti was everywhere for Montreal, tracking into his own half and recovering 10 loose balls in what was his most complete performance for his new team. It was also his first 90-minute shift, marking the end of his progression to match fitness in time for the stretch run of the season and CONCACAF Champions League group stage.

Piatti is joined by 10 others on this week’s Best XI:

Planet Fútbol MLS Best XI — Week 25

• Bill Hamid (D.C. United): After conceding four goals in midweek play, Hamid bounced back to lead D.C. to a 2-0 win over New York on Sunday. He made five saves total, including a quick dive down to his left on a point-blank header by Bradley Wright-Phillips before halftime.

• Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy): It was a rare good day for Gonzalez with his feet, as he completed 88 percent of his passes in a 4-1 win over D.C. and scored on a corner kick with a volley. As usual, he was also effective in the air, winning every aerial duel he attempted.

• Jeff Larentowicz (Chicago Fire): Starting out of position, usual holding midfielder Larentowicz anchored the Fire back line in a 1-0 win over Dallas. He also assisted the winning goal as he got forward and put back a second attempt on a late corner kick.

• Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers): Powell scored his first MLS goal with a nice near-post run and header in a 3-0 win over Vancouver, sparking the Timbers’ three-goal second half. Much like Cascadia rival DeAndre Yedlin, Powell is never shy about bombing forward down the right flank.

• Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo): Davis provided two free-kick assists in the last half-hour of a 3-1 win over Kansas City. He was dangerous on crosses as usual, finding the intended target with five of his nine attempts.

• Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact): This week’s best player, Piatti scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Columbus. He cut in from left wing and roamed freely, providing the Impact with a much-needed presence in midfield.

• Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution): After picking off a pass and scoring from distance in the second minute of a 3-0 win over Toronto, Nguyen added an assist on Kelyn Rowe’s goal less than 20 minutes later. It’s a continual wonder Nguyen has just three caps for the United States national team.

• Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution): Not to be outdone by midfield teammate Nguyen, Rowe scored from even farther against Toronto for the second goal. He also provided a secondary assist on the third goal and misplayed just two passes all game.

• Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy): Donovan continues to roll through the end of his final MLS regular season, scoring on a penalty against D.C. in midweek and adding four assists — two in that match and two more against Chivas on the weekend. Along with owning the MLS goal crown, he’s six assists away from matching Steve Ralston’s career regular-season record of 135.

STRAUS: U.S. Soccer does right by Donovan with final call-up

• Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes): Thompson’s technical ability and vision continue to be impressive and grow with each match. San Jose’s injuries have been a blessing for Thompson, allowing him to get playing time and show why his subtly exciting brand of soccer could be vital for the U.S. in the future.

• Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders): Dempsey operated in front of goal all game in a 1-0 win over Colorado, completing 86 percent of his passes and scoring the winning goal. Unlike the recent matches in which he has largely disappeared, Dempsey was at the forefront of the Sounders’ attack on Saturday, punctuating his performance with a shin-volley finish on Marco Pappa’s corner kick.

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