Wednesday’s matchup between D.C. United and the Montreal Impact features two of the most exciting players to watch in Major League Soccer, Ignacio Piatti of the Montreal Impact and the Black-and-Red's Luciano Acosta. Both players are nightmares for defenders when the ball is at their feet, capable of dribbling past opponents or splitting open defenses with a cutting pass.
Acosta, an academy product of Argentine giants Boca Juniors, has so far impressed the coaching staff in D.C. with his adjustment to the American game. Standing at just five-foot-three, “Lucho” has made a habit of embarrassing taller defenders tasked with containing him. The crafty 22-year-old frequently draws from his impressive arsenal of tricks to zip past opponents or wriggle around them. The Buenos Aires native leads the Black-and-Red in successful dribbles with 44 and fans are becoming accustomed to seeing new tricks on a weekly basis. But it's not just dribbling that has both fans and the staff excited. His vision and passing have improved throughout the course have helped United’s offense tick this season and he leads the team in through balls with 14.
“He’s got a lot of magic in him,” said United assistant coach Chad Ashton. “You’ve seen it already in the little glimpses when he’s played that he can pull off a big-time play.”
The Montreal Impact possess a creative Argentine of their own in Piatti. The 31-year-old has become a star in MLS since signing for the French Canadians in 2014, winning the club’s MVP honor in 2015. Piatti honed his skills in the top flights of France, Italy, and Argentina before coming to MLS, helping Argentine club San Lorenzo to the Copa Libertadores title in 2014 (South America’s continental championship). He also scored in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Club América during his first season with the Impact.
While not as crafty a dribbler as Acosta, Piatti has had his finishing boots on all year; he ranks fourth in the MLS Golden Boot race with 13 goals in 22 games. He leads the team in many statistical categories and was selected as an MLS All-Star last month for the first time in his career. Piatti is so valuable to the Impact that his arrival at the club saw Montreal improve from finishing in 10th to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference in the span of one season. His partnership with forward Didier Drogba has become one of the most feared in MLS, but his ability to set up his teammates while also finishing chances himself is what makes him a special player.
The last match between D.C. and Montreal a month ago ended in a 1-1 stalemate, but both sides want all three points this time, with just one place between them in the table. Each team will need their own playmaker to be at his best for their offense to run smoothly in the battle north of the border on Wednesday (7:30 PM ET on NewsChannel 8).