Leading by example

Taïder’s double propels Impact past Sounders and into second position

There was no celebration after the first goal; no gasp of excitement, no punch in the air. After midfielder Saphir Taïder tied the game from the penalty spot in the 74th minute, Wednesday night against Seattle, he simply ran towards the net, picked up the ball, and led his men back to their own half.

There was a sense of determination around the Algerian, but it wasn’t a typical celebration on his end. After all, Seattle was third in the Western Conference, and his decisive penalty past Stefan Frei with 15 minutes to go put the Impact in a good position to earn a come from behind draw.

But after the Algerian knocked in a volley past Stefan Frei to give the Impact the lead four minutes later, this time, he celebrated. And if you listen to his pregame speech, you’ll understand why.

“I sensed it from a few days ago that he’s turned a corner,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “We need him. We absolutely need him. He showed that he’s in a position, mentally and physically, to really attack the second part of the season. He’s a massive part of what we’re going to try to do in the second half, so we need him to be committed and engaged. When he’s playing like that, we can be a very dangerous team.”

The Impact ended up seeing out its lead, coming from behind to take all three points. But it wasn’t done without its fair share of adversity: injuries and international call-ups left the Impact’s bench in a bit of a precarious situation, giving young players a chance to be a part of the 18, and giving full-back Daniel Kinumbe an opportunity to make his first MLS start.

“I always had the tendency of communicating with young players, because I become a bit of a different person when I’m on the field,” said Taïder after the game. “I try to encourage them and be as positive as possible. Tonight, the young players that were on the field lent us a strong hand. Even those on the bench. I want to congratulate them, because this victory is also because of them.”

It was the best way to end the unofficial first half of the season and go into a three-week break. After 18 games played, the Impact finds itself second in the Eastern Conference standings, with 10 of their remaining 16 games to be played at Stade Saputo.