Coming into their second season in Major League Soccer, the Montreal Impact look to build on a successful opening campaign and hope to get into the playoffs. Last season saw them struggle on the road while holding their own at both Olympic Stadium and Stade Saputo. It’s away where the club will start this season with a date on opening day against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. If the club can add a few more wins on the road, their lofty goals of competing for a playoff spot might come true.
The club didn’t make too many changes during the offseason but what they did do was significant. Out goes coach Jesse Marsch, as his style didn’t match with the owner’s thinking, and in comes European Marco Schallibaum. His Swiss and Italian experience coupled with his FIFA coaching credentials made this move and easy one.
In terms of their roster, Bernardo Corradi called it a career while Justin Braun made the move over to TFC. In come the attacking minded Andrea Pisanu and Andres Romero. Pisanu will hope to combine with Marco Di Vaio in forming a formidable striking partnership. Romero will play with Patrice Bernier and Felipe in the middle of the park.
The Impact come into the season keeping 22 from last season’s roster. They have addressed their weaknesses up front but it’s in the back where most of the improvements will have to come. The squad surrendered the second most goals in the Eastern conference last season. It will be up to the Italian duo of Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari to shore up a leaky back line. The key to their and the team’s success will come down to both the center backs’ health. If both stay healthy, on the pitch and work together then the team has a chance to win every night out.
So, obviously the Impact go as far as their Italian imports go. The club unveiled their new kits this week with the media comparing them to Inter Milan’s. Nesta, when asked how he would feel wearing a kit that looks like his hated team, stated:
“It’s not an Inter Milan jersey, it’s an Atalanta jersey.”
It was a smart way to put it and an easy way to stop all the questions for the rest of the year.
Sporting Director Nick DeSantis hasn’t said playoffs or bust but the footballing fans in Canada can be fickle. Heads will roll if another season out of the playoffs unfolds and the Italian experiment will end. This is a big year for the club and hopefully they follow their Canadian cousins, the Vancouver Whitecaps, into the playoffs in their second year of existence.
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