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Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti named MLS player of the week

Montreal Impact's Ignacio Piatti, right, challenges Columbus Crew SC's Michael Parkhurst (4) during first half MLS soccer action in Montreal on April 9, 2016. Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti has been named Major League Soccer's player of the week. Piatti scored two goals and drew a penalty kick converted by Didier Drogba in the Impact's 4-4 draw in Columbus on Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
May 10, 2016 - 2:08 PM

Montreal Impact captain Patrice Bernier says of teammate Ignacio Piatti that; "sometimes he's not there the whole game but, in one moment, he can change a game by himself."

Piatti has been doing that a lot this season.

On Tuesday, he was named Major League Soccer player of the week for scoring two goals and drawing the penalty that led to another by more famous teammate Didier Drogba in a 4-4 comeback draw in Columbus on the weekend.

The 31-year-old Argentine was named to the league's team of the week for the fifth time and his 26th minute goal in Columbus, in which he dribbled into the box for a spectacular goal, should be a candidate for a third goal of the week honour as well.

"He wants to be our playmaker on the field and, when he's in top form, he's one of the best players in the league," said Bernier. "If he keeps it up like that, for sure he'll be a candidate for player of the year,"

Piatti, who leads the team with six goals in 10 games, is a big reason the 4-3-3 Impact are in top spot in the Eastern Conference heading into a home game Saturday against one of their closest pursuers, the Philadelphia Union.

It started with the season opener on March 6 in Vancouver when he dribbled through a handful of players to score in what would be a 3-2 win. He called that his favourite of the season so far. But he had another highlight goal that he curled in from the left side in a 2-1 win in over Chicago on April 16.

"I'm just happy when we win," said Piatti.

Chelsea legend Drogba has been the team's top star since he joined the club last summer, but Piatti has been showing that he is not to be overlooked.

He signed with Montreal in 2014 and had four goals in six games late in the campaign. Then he was the point man on attack as the Impact made a surprise run to the CONCACAF Champions League final early in 2015.

But a knee injury, the death of his grandfather and concerns about his ailing father, which necessitated a mid-season trip home, made for a disjointed 2015 campaign overall, although he still managed nine goals and eight assists in 26 MLS games.

There were concerns that opposing teams had figured out how to contain him, but he looks to have put that to rest.

Ironically, it may be by not trying to do it all on his own that he has produced some spectacular individual efforts.

"My conversation with him came down to 'keep the opposition guessing,' " said coach Mauro Biello. "He can play one or two-touch, but if they know every time he gets the ball that he's going to put his head down and dribble, then it's easier to defend.

"If he has variety in his game, he'll be a lot more difficult to shut down."

Much of the talk at training centred on Columbus, who suspended striker Kai Kamara for one game and reportedly were looking to trade their scoring star over his dispute with midfielder Federico Higuain. The two got into a spat on the field over which of them should take a penalty, and Kamara had harsh words for Higuain in his post-game comments.

Biello said that if Kamara, a 22-goal scorer last season, is traded, it likely be to a western conference team.

"We have values here — solidarity, respect," said Biello. " All those things are important in our group."

Midfielder Marco Donadel also did not expect a trade for the big Columbus striker.

"We have a lot of good strikers and I don't think right now Kamara can give us anything different," said Donadel. "We're OK, no? There is a big guy here, no?"

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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