Montreal Impact's Ignacio Piatti Wants in MVP Race

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Three finalists are chosen each season for Major League Soccer’s Landon Donovan MVP Award. While it’s only March — and therefore nearly a complete waste of time to speculate on potential MVP candidates — one player, in particular, has already made his intentions clear that he plans to keep his name in the conversation in 2016: Ignacio Piatti.

No, Piatti didn’t tell me that his goal is to do so. Nor did he tell anyone else in the media. His play in the Montreal Impact’s first two matches just screams it from the top of Olympus Mons.

Through two games Piatti has already recorded nine total shots, five shots on target, three goals, and two assists. And beyond the gaudy statistics, he simply has looked like far and away the best player on the pitch in both of the Impact’s matches which, by the way, were against playoff teams from 2015 in the Vancouver Whitecaps and New York Red Bulls.

Piatti dazzled fans with a highlight sure to be replayed on loop at his retirement party someday in the season opener against the Whitecaps. “Nacho” weaved through the Vancouver back line like a kid dribbling in the backyard against imaginary defenders, and then calmly rifled the ball past Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. Here it is in all its splendor courtesy of the Impact’s YouTube channel:

Even in French, there is no better word for “golazo” I see. That’s refreshing.

Against NYRB, Piatti found a seam on the right side and bolted like a gazelle as he ran onto a perfectly played ball into space by teammate Donny Toia. Piatti, alone on net, took two touches and then subtlety feinted with his hips as though he was going to lay a ball across for a teammate which drew Red Bulls ‘keeper Luis Robles’ attention away from the near post. Piatti then slotted the ball into the back of the net at — where else — the near post.

Another factor that makes Piatti’s sublime early-season performance even more impressive is that he’s led Montreal to a 2-0 start and an early perch atop the Eastern Conference table while diva teammate Didier Drogba sits out due to an unwillingness to play on turf. It’s scary to think how good this Impact side will be once they get on real grass with Drogba in tow.

Piatti was already exceptional last season, tallying nine goals and eight assists in 26 regular season games, but he looks like an entirely different kind of monster this season. His touch is still impeccable, and his pace both with and without the ball at his feet seems to have increased. Piatti looks flat-out explosive right now, which doesn’t even seem fair for a player with his technique. He’s also one of the better finishers in all of MLS.

If Ignacio Piatti can stay healthy, don’t be surprised if his final numbers place him in MVP candidate territory, especially if Drogba continues to be rested on artificial pitches throughout the season.

Main Photo: Jeff Vinnick, Getty Images