Since the beginning of the year, the Montreal Impact seems unable to start its engine. The last three games of the Bleu-Blanc-Noir paint the perfect picture of the Impact’s season so far, with draw in Philadelphia, a loss at home against Vancouver and a win in DC. Life is hard for Biello’s men, but the recent win in DC and the arrival of Blerim Dzemaili bring hope to Montreal supporters.
How’s it been going?
Week 7: Philadelphia Union-IMFC, 3-3
That first half clearly was Montreal’s worst half of football since joining Major League Soccer in 2012. And maybe even since its foundation in 1993. Nothing worked. Just nothing. The midfield was non-existent, the defending was, at best, poor. It was painful to watch. The Impact eventually fell 3-0 to lowly Philly, before coming back to life after Nacho Piatti’s incredible solo wake-up call late in the first half (3-1). Then, it was all Anthony Jackson-Hamel, who scored a brace off the bench to allow Montreal to steal a point.
Week 8: IMFC-Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-2
The game ticket design boasted “True to Our Game”, which, when you consider the somewhat poor displays of the team so far in 2017, wasn’t exactly something to get excited about. Sadly, the Impact was indeed true to its game and had all sorts of trouble making plays to create danger in Vancouver’s penalty area and spent the whole second half looking at its opponent without the slightest clue on how to defeat him. And, of course, the defence gave away another easy goal and Vancouver ran away with all three points. And if that wasn’t bad enough, forward Matteo Mancosu was injured and pulled out of the game after only a few minutes. This time, sadly, Jackson-Hamel couldn’t pull goals out of his hat.
Week 9: DC United-IMFC, 0-1
With Biello talking all week about “making changes”, no one really knew what to expect from the Impact in Washington, DC. Surprisingly, Daniel Lovitz was given a start on the right side of midfield while Ballou Tabla was moved to central midfield, replacing Bernier who was slightly injured. Oduro was given the nod in attack, with Jackson-Hamel donning his super sub costume. Also, defensive mid Donadel had trouble (again) with his knee and was replaced by Arregui. Biello definitely set things up in counter-attack mode, which is always a great idea, seeing how it obviously is the Impact’s main strength. A more compact block helped the defensive side of things while Piatti and Ballou Tabla could explode on the counter and make use of Oduro’s speed up front. And it was the young Academy product who made the difference. Weaving through DC’s defence, Ballou Tabla opened the scoring after 13 minutes. This would prove to be enough as DC just couldn’t find a way to pierce through Montreal’s defensive wall, led by a gigantic Laurent Ciman who had his best game this year, despite the best efforts of Acosta hitting the bar late in the game.
The Impact now sits in 10th place in the East with 2 wins, 4 draws and 3 losses, for a total of 10 points.
The big talking point of the moment is, naturally, Blerim Dzemaili’s arrival. The long-awaited midfielder just had a fantastic season with Bologna, and his goal-scoring skills will be welcomed by players and supporters alike. Dzemaili is available to play and might see some action against Columbus this weekend. This might spark a tactical change, since Biello might want to have Dzemaili play high up on the field alongside Bernier. Supporters are wondering who will be left out of the starting XI to make room for the Swiss international. Time will tell.
What’s to come?
The Impact faces two rough MLS home games against Columbus and Portland. With the Crew six points up in the table, this game is a must-win, or at the very least a must-not-lose, for Biello’s men. The Portland game is very tricky since minds will (or should) already be set on the Voyageurs’ Cup encounter with Vancouver happening only three days later in British Columbia. A win against Columbus could set things up for a very prolific month of May in Montreal.