High praise for Samuel Piette’s performance

Canadian international was solid on both sides of the ball against Orlando

In his 40th consecutive start for the Montreal Impact, Saturday afternoon in Orlando, midfielder Samuel Piette put in the type of performance that reminds us how essential the young Canadian international is to the Bleu-blanc-noir’s starting 11.

It wasn’t him scoring the goals or providing the key assists. He wasn’t flashy in any way – that’s not really his game. But he was a tiresome force in midfield, recovering ball after ball in his own end, calmly keeping possession or jump-starting his team’s attack.  

“Sam’s very steady,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “He’s always been like that, since the first day he got here. He’s been great. Defensively, we need him in front of those two centre-backs. The biggest difference from when he got here to now is his transition from defense to offense. He’s been really good lately at picking up balls and finding players going forward to start the attack quickly.”

This was particularly highlighted on Orji Okwonkwo’s first MLS goal. Piette recovered the ball with a crunching tackle before sending a long, precise pass to Saphir Taïder in the Lions’ final third. The Bleu-blanc-noir midfielder was key in transitioning the game into their opponent’s end throughout 90 minutes, despite maintaining his efficiency on his end of the pitch.

“It took nothing away from his defensive game, because he recovered 21 balls, which is quite simply an enormous number,” said head coach Rémi Garde. “There are no statistics for a position like Sam’s. If I hadn’t told you how many balls he recovered, we only say that he had a good game, a mediocre game, or a bad game. I like appreciating the players in positions who aren’t spoiled with statistics.”

International duty

Piette will be taking advantage of the Impact’s weekend off to take part in the Canadian national team’s training camp, which includes an important Concacaf Nations League qualifying game against French Guiana.

The young midfielder will potentially earn his 41st cap with the national team, and his third under head coach John Herdman. A win would see the Reds officially qualify for the Gold Cup this summer, while any other result means they’ll have to wait and see how other countries perform, as only the top 10 will qualify to the continental tournament. There’s also a berth in the Group A of the Concacaf Nations League on the line.