Welcome to 2014 First Kick! The kind folks at Mount Royal Soccer were kind enough to talk shop this week as I probed for the je ne sais quoi that makes Montreal such a ... an Impact!
1) FC Dallas and Montreal both started 2013 impressively but dropped off significantly. Our readers are familiar with the issues that plagued FCD through the middle of last season, but what contributed to the cooling off of Montreal's hot streak? With such a quiet offseason in Canada, how has the front office made changes to prevent this happening again?
Lack of rotation and squad depth killed the Montreal Impact in 2013. You can add a form of arrogance from Marco Schallibaum, who did not see fit to rest his key players. On the other hand, the pressure to win at all cost did not help at all.
But at the end, the club relied heavily on a core of players which is a good thing. But with no viable solutions off the bench became too much to handle for the Bleu, Blanc et Noir.
As per off-season transfers, stability and continuity is important for any professional club and the Impact took that route. It was not a voluntary choice at 100% as the club has stated many times that it had little space under the salary cap.
Though, getting Uruguayan striker Santiago Gonzalez was a smart move as the club signed the 21-year old striker as ''special discovery ''. The Impact still keeps its third DP spot available for a mid-summer signing and get financial help from the MLS to amortize Gonzalez's contract.
2) Former Dallas favorite Heath Pearce is on trial in Montreal. What qualities does he bring to Montreal that the team may otherwise lack? Do you think the Impact will sign him for 2014?
Actually, Heath Pearce just officially signed with the Montreal Impact. The versatile left back will bring depth and experience to a back-line that needs a breath of fresh air and some help.
One of the Impact's issue since joining MLS was a lack of offensive support from the fullbacks. This is not to be interpreted as a jab at Hassoun Camara and Jeb Brovsky. The coaching staff has never implemented that aspect and Pearce could be a catalyst on the left side.
Though Camara does not mind to go up the pitch, having Pearce on the left will help the game of the Impact as a whole.
3) Dallas fans are far too familiar with over dependence on one player for offensive magic these past few seasons. In Montreal, what happens if Marco Di Vaio is unavailable for a significant stretch this season? How would head coach Frank Klopas react; what other tools does he have at his disposal?
Panic, Breath and Panic some more!!
I always found the ''Marco Di Vaio dependence'' to be healthy one. He gets paid the big bucks but most importantly and what really counts is that he was brought in to produce and score goals.
But Andrew Wenger's lack of productivity is worrisome but has shown to be sharper during this preseason. The arrival of Gonzalez is no coincidence as the young striker can fill in the role of a physical pivot striker and has the speed.
The basis of the Impact game will be based on a counter-attacking style of play, depending heavily on the midfield to distribute the ball quickly to Justin Mapp and the forwards. If you block that avenue, you pretty much won the game.
Thank you again to Mount Royal Soccer for corresponding with us. Thank you to you for reading. Please leave a comment and continue the conversation. I'll post a link to my answers to MRS's questions when it is available.
What do you want to know about Montreal? Can Heath convince Joey Saputo to sport a bowtie? What are you most looking forward to this Saturday?