The Montreal Impact’s second season will show fans different tactics and shape for their club. We’ve seen all the changes in Toronto over the years and Vancouver has seen their fair share of changes in their three years in MLS. But one would have thought Montreal would be different. As it happened they didn’t stray too far from their Canadian foes.
Going into their second season, many figured the Impact would build on their solid year under former inaugural head coach Jesse Marsch. Instead, he went out of the door and in came swiss manager Marco Schällibaum.
Many skeptics see the Schällibaum’s one-year signing as a weakness to the club. For me, this is standard operating procedure for the former Swiss top flight coach. Schällibaum has not been at one club for more than a season in his past five clubs. In fact, the last time he was a head coach for more than a season was at BSC Young Boys where he led them to a birth in the UEFA Champions League. Because of this, it seems that the one-year contract was likely due to both parties agreeing, results are important for now as well as the future. For management success likely looks like a playoff berth and/or a Canadian Championship.
M Andrea Pisanu (1/4/13 – loan from Bologna)
F Andrés Romero (2/7/13 – loan from Tombense)
GK Greg Sutton (10/26/12 – retirement)
M Evan James (11/19/12 – option declined)
D Shavar Thomas (12/3/12 – option declined)
D Josh Gardner (12/5/12 – traded to Sporting KC)
M Lamar Neagle (1/27/13 – trade to Seattle)
The Impact will likely be active during this coming season with trades. With currently six players competing for midfield spots, Patrice Bernier is the clear leader alongside Pisanu loaned from Bologna. After the two leaders, there is bound to be some excess from the other 10 midfielders on the roster (that number does not include those on trial, invitees from academy, etc.)
Fundamentals for Success
If the preseason is any indicator for the Impact’s second season, it will be interesting to watch. Marco Di Vaio finally having an off season should have allowed him to rest his legs, which should yield better results on the attack. Also, having an off-season with an entire roster can only help the players get to know their new coach, his tactics, and start their sophomore season on an even keel with other MLS sides.
If the recent 4-1 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Rowdies was any indication, these two facts are god-sends to a squad that last year seemed to run out of gas in the last 30 minutes.
Having Troy Perkins minding net for an entire year will create more confidence in the back. Although the defense is not getting any younger, an entire off season together should generate more cohesive play, limiting defensive breakdowns that were brutal in games last year.
Another key on the attack will be who shines brightest alongside Di Vaio. Although Andrew Wenger was touted to be the best rookie in the class, Connor Lade of the New York Red Bulls seemed to have claimed that honor. With the addition of Andres Romero from Tombense either Wenger will become what everyone hoped, or Romero will show the world what his best Messi impression looks like.
While I’m hesitant to go all in on an Argentinean who has yet to be tested in one of the roughest leagues in the world, Wenger hasn’t played to his alleged potential either. Whoever wins this battle will likely push or pull the squad with them.
The signs currently point to a 15-8-11 result of the season, hopefully on the winning end of a heated playoff battle. This is a squad that has the potential to win the Canadian Championship, easily moving past Toronto and likely facing off against Vancouver for a CONCACAF Champions League berth.
The impact will fare better on the road this year. Not only because they can’t possibly do any worse, but conditioning (read rest) will be key for the entire squad.
The Saputo ownership will bring in another DP during the summer window. I’m thinking a young defender, likely from Italy.
What do you think will happen this year? Are you hopeful? Are you pessimistic? Write your thoughts on the comment box below.
(image courtesy of impactmontreal.com)