Piatti scores twice, Fisher gets career first as Impact down 10-man Portland 4-1

Piatti scores twice, Fisher gets career first as Impact down 10-man Portland 4-1

Montreal Impact coach Mauro Biello said young defender Kyle Fisher had a “Gordie Howe game,” even if he didn’t have an assist or a fight to go with his first career MLS goal.

But Fisher likely earned the compliment for the grit he showed when, only a few minutes after having his head stitched and bandaged after a knock with Portland’s Fanendo Adi, he leapt up and headed in Blerim Dzemaili’s corner kick in the 44th minute of the Impact’s 4-1 win over the 10-man Timbers on Saturday afternoon.

The Easley, N.C., native knows what a Gordie Howe hat-trick is and smiled at the comparison to the sandpapery side of one of hockey’s all-time greats.

“The fight, the goal and the assist — I was missing one or two of those,” said 22-year-old Fisher. “It’s one of the things we’ve been working on, trying to get me isolated, and we did it today. It was good to capitalize.”

Ignacio Piatti scored twice to become the Impact’s all-time scoring leader in its MLS era while Ambroise Oyongo also scored for Montreal (3-4-4), which ended a frustrating home losing run at two games. Piatti’s 36 goals are two more than Marco Di Vaio got in his two seasons in Montreal.

Diego Valeri scored for the Timbers (5-4-3), who are winless in four games and have been outscored 10-4 in that span. The four goals conceded was their season high.

It was an afternoon where a lot went right for the Impact, starting with a penalty call in the 13th minute that let Piatti score from the spot and a red card shown to Portland midfielder Diego Chara in the 21st for a backhand slap to Piatti’s face.

Fisher’s goal made it 2-0, but the Timbers answered back just before the intermission when Alvas Powell lofted a pass for Valerito past Evan Bush.

Piatti struck again from close range in the 50th and Ballou Tabla made an energetic play to feed Oyongo for a goal in the 77th. The gifted 18-year-old Tabla’s work moved Montreal native Biello to jokingly drop another hockey name — Connor McDavid.

But the talk mostly centred on Fisher, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016 who has made a strong bid for a central defence job while Victor Cabrera and Hassoun Camara recover from injuries.

“Kyle Fisher is a warrior and sometimes in this league you need that type of defender,” said Impact captain Patrice Bernier, who played major junior hockey for the Val d’Or Foreurs as a teenager. “He’s feisty and I like that.

“Sometimes in training you don’t like to get kicked a bit and those types of players can get on your nerves, but it’s good because you know they can do it to the other team. He’s been progressing well the last few games and I’m happy to see a young player that performs and isn’t afraid to give his share of little shoulders and hits to the top strikers in this league.”

Fisher got his head bandaged on the sidelines and went back into the game. After the game, he got six stitches above an eye and went through concussion protocol, but said he was fine.

“I came in (at half time), got cleaned up and got stitched,” said Fisher. “It was a better job of bandaging. I didn’t feel like my head was going to explode from the pressure of the tape around it.”

The Impact play a third straight MLS home game on June 3 against the New York Red Bulls, but before that they travel to Vancouver on Tuesday for a Canadian championship game, with the second leg a week later in Montreal.

The Impact made lineup changes from a week ago, putting Bernier into the midfield in place of Adrian Arregui and forward Jackson-Hamel for Dominic Oduro. Midfielder Marco Donadel returned from injury and took Hernan Bernardello’s spot.

Bernier was presented with the medal of the Quebec National Assembly before the game to honour his work in the community.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press
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