Impact's Piatti scores twice to cool off Fire
Montreal has 1st 3-game winning streak of the season
If Ignacio Piatti is playing his final games in a Montreal Impact uniform, he's definitely going out in style.
Piatti scored twice as the Impact cruised past the visiting Chicago Fire 3-0 on Wednesday for their first three-game winning streak of the Major League Soccer season.
Speaking to the crowd from the pitch after being named man of the match shortly after the final whistle, Piatti said he might be playing his "last 10 games" with the club. The Argentine's contract expires at the end of the year.
"I want to continue playing but I don't decide these kind of things," clarified Piatti in the dressing room after the match. "It's up to the team, up to the president (Joey Saputo). This may be my last 10 games here, my last season. I definitely want to reach the playoffs to end on a good note.
"I'm very happy with this team though. I want to be able to stay here. It's not up to me. It's up to the team now."
With the victory, Montreal (9-8-6) edged closer to a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The seventh-place Impact are now two points away from the fifth-place Columbus Crew with two games in hand.
Chicago (12-7-5) has lost four of their last five games.
Piatti netted his third brace of the season to down the struggling Fire in front of 19,894 at Saputo Stadium. The 32-year-old has four goals in his last three games for a total of 12 on the season. He has 42 goals in 82 regular-season matches since joining the Impact in 2014.
"Nacho [Piatti] is one of the best players in the league," said head coach Mauro Biello. "He's a difference maker. I know they're currently in negotiations, but I just want to focus on what happens on the pitch."
Piatti's first goal against Chicago was a bit of a fluke. The Argentine blocked a rushed clearance from defender Christian Dean. The ball dropped perfectly in the box for Piatti, who cheekily flicked it over goalkeeper Matt Lampson in the sixth minute of play.
Dean had just come into the game less than a minute earlier as a substitute, replacing the injured Joao Meira. It was his first action as a Fire player after being traded from Vancouver two weeks ago.
Piatti's second was a thing of beauty. He found himself 25 yards away from goal surrounded by three Chicago players. Instead of waiting for a teammate, Piatti curled a shot into the bottom right corner of the net for his 12th of the season in the 38th minute. Lampson was not expecting the shot and could not react in time.
"It's easier playing with him because he always has two or three players on him," said midfielder Blerim Dzemaili. "You can have space because of it. You can be free. We find each other on the pitch because we know each other's qualities."
Matteo Mancosu gave Montreal the 2-0 lead from the penalty spot in the 37th minute, one minute before Piatti's second of the match. The Impact striker earned the spot kick after finding himself all alone on goal following Piatti's clever through ball. Mancosu tried to go around Lampson but the Fire 'keeper tripped him in the box.
Piatti usually takes the penalties for Montreal, but the team's leading scorer gave it to Mancosu, who had not scored in his last nine games. The Italian fired a hard shot in the bottom left corner as Lampson dove in the opposite direction.
"He's a great player but a great man too," said captain Patrice Bernier of Piatti. "Good guy to have on this team. He gave him the ball to try to get him [Mancosu] out of a funk. That type of gesture is fantastic. He thought of a teammate for the team to be at its best."
Montreal, which is coming off a 3-0 victory against the Philadelphia Union, recorded consecutive clean sheets for the first time since Oct. 2015.