The Montreal Impact finally got a first win in 2017. After a slow start made up of three draws and two losses, it took a stroke of genius by Canadian international Anthony Jackson-Hamel in added time to defeat expansion side Atlanta United FC. Even though fans left the stadium happy, discontent remains rather high among Bleu-Blanc-Noir supporters.
How’s it been going?
Week 4: Chicago Fire-IMFC, 2-2
It was a game of firsts in Chicago. While all eyes were on new Chicago resident Bastian Schweinsteiger making his first start with the Fire, for Montreal fans, with Piatti down injured, the game also meant that Academy prodigy Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla would get the first Major League Soccer start of his career. Both players had an instant impact on their teams, with Schweini scoring its first MLS goal in the first half and getting an insane volume of play in the midfield, and Ballou making Montreal fans forget about Piatti at times and scoring the go-ahead goal late in the game. Sadly for the Impact, the team gave up an easy goal in added time. Two points were lost.
Week 5: Los Angeles Galaxy-IMFC, 2-0
While Montreal had an okay first half, referee Armando Villareal made sure to steal the show just before half-time. With the Impact down 1-0 after giving up an easy goal (again) to Romain Alessandrini, Marco Donadel received a straight red card for a very mild contact with Jermaine Jones. From there on, there was not much to hope for the Impact. Clearly a game to forget.
Week 6: IMFC-Atlanta, 2-1
While the Impact had a decent game defensively, even though they gave up an awful easy goal (again), the problems of the team when it comes to offensive play were again displayed after a red card to Gonzalez Pirez for an imaginary foul on Mancosu in the box just before the break. For a whole half, the Impact was sluggish moving forward and failed to really create chances. Things suddenly looked better when Ballou came on, as he was able to split the defence on occasion with his speed and magic feet but Montreal had to wait for a last gasp effort and an insane flick by Anthony Jackson-Hamel to get all three points.
Not much was on the radar the last time I wrote this column. However, every Impact fan will tell you: if it’s quiet, something dramatic is bound to happen. And since the Bleirim Dzemaili saga didn’t make a mess, as the Swiss midfielder now seems to be set to join the Impact as early as May, one just knew something was brewing. And as they say, all good things come in threes…
It first started with a report by TVA Sports’ Nicolas A. Martineau that Laurent Ciman’s agent was on his way to England to talk with a club about the future of his client. That rumour should have had the effect of a bomb in Montreal but was quickly defused when RDS’ Patrick Leduc mentioned that Ciman’s agent was on a mission to potentially bring another Belgian international to MLS, and perhaps to the Impact. Everton’s Kevin Mirallas was mentioned as a possibility.
A few days later, the Impact announced that it had suspended defender Wandrille Lefèvre “due to an unacceptable social media post.” Lefèvre had posted a picture of himself on Instagram holding a weapon (an air pistol, to be precise) as well as an anti-Trump message.
As if it wasn’t enough, the Lefèvre incident sparked RDS’ Patrick Friolet to tweet that the Impact was already considering to release Lefèvre and that his social media mishap might just be the last drop for the club. As well, Friolet mentioned that Anthony Jackson-Hamel was on his way out and that his release was to be confirmed within days. That was before Jackson-Hamel scored the winner against Atlanta. Also, Lefèvre’s suspension was lifted the day after his Instagram post and the player posted a lengthy apology on social media. Friolet eventually deleted his tweets, but it was enough to stir a lot of emotions amongst the fans, who were angered at the possibility of seeing yet more academy products let go.
What’s to come?
Ahead lies a key stretch of the season for Biello and the Impact, as the team will go on the road to face winless Philadelphia Union before coming back home to face Vancouver Whitecaps and going back on the road to DC United. This will be followed by two tough home games against Columbus and Portland before the team faces Vancouver in a home and away series in the Voyageurs Cup. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how Biello navigates his ship in these shallow waters.