Our Nacho keeps on giving

Argentine maestro renews himself with 12 assists this season

Over the last four years, the Montreal Impact’s supporters have been treated to the Nacho show. Countless times, the Argentine magician has brought Stade Saputo to its feet with a fantastic goal or a dribble that left his defender bamboozled.

As far as the Impact’s greatest ever players go, Nacho Piatti definitely goes near the top of the list.

This year, the maestro seems to have added another dimension to his game: for the first time in MLS, the Designated Player has reached double digits in assists, with 12 on the year, including two in the club’s last win in Philadelphia.

“I think we’re a little surprised to see him pass the ball so much, because he usually puts it in the back of the net when he keeps it,” said defender Daniel Lovitz. “I think he’s understanding that the attention he receives from the opposition’s defense is able to free up other players. As a team, it helps our game moving forward.”

Of course, when other teams see the Montreal Impact coming up on the schedule, Nacho Piatti’s name will always be circled on the board. The 33-year-old scored 17 MLS goals in back-to-back seasons and has 13 to his name in 2018, ranking him seventh in the league.

Considering his stats in front of goal, everyone knows Nacho can find the back of the net. But his impressive assist tally seems to have taken some by surprise.

“He set a record for assists in the season,” added goalkeeper Evan Bush. “It just shows how much attention he gets on the field. Everyone thinks he’ll take those extra touches to shoot, so it surprises them. It’s just the evolution of a really good player and it adds another dimension to our attack.”

Credit the coaching staff

The Impact’s coaching staff may have a thing or two to do with the evolution of Nacho’s passing game, pointing out situations where he would have been better off passing during the team’s video sessions.

“He added something to his game,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “It didn’t take away any of the qualities he had, because he remains our best scorer and very dangerous, and other teams know that he can score goals.”

But for Garde, credit is especially due to Nacho as well, for reacting well and adjusting his game. With a club record for assists in MLS under his belt this season, he seems to have taken the coaching staff’s advice to heart.

“I’ve rarely seen someone who can make such an individual difference, but who remains so collective and altruist within the group,” added Garde. “At the end, it was easy for me to add something to his game rather than remove something. He really seems to have blossomed.”