MLS: A Look at the Montreal Impact Before Their Debut Season in 2012
In just over a month, the newest franchise in MLS will play their first home game, but what can we expect from the Montreal Impact?
Much of the pressure will be on the shoulders of head coach Jesse Marsch.
Hiring a man with no head coaching experience is a dangerous move for the Impact in their debut season. With 18 months as assistant coach to Bob Bradley in the national setup, Marsch will need to find his feet in the MLS quickly.
The Impact have had a mixed set of results in preseason. They were underwhelming against Houston in a 2-0 defeat but recorded a solid 3-0 victory over a weakened LA Galaxy.
Donovan Ricketts played well in the shutout of his former team, and the Impact will need a big season from the Jamaican 'keeper this season.
His shot-stopping ability is up there with the best in the league. With questions surrounding the goalscoring ability of the team, to have any chance the Impact will need to build from the back.
Montreal has a strong back line, strengthened further with the acquisition of Matteo Ferrari. The former Everton, Roma and Inter Milan central defender can be dominating in the air, and a lack of pace should not be a problem in the US.
Perhaps the best signing that the Impact have made is that of Quebec native Patrice Bernier. The Canadian should give the side a solid platform to build from in the center of the park.
He has a great engine and can break up the play well. While not a goal threat, Bernier gives the club a solid base to build moves around.
His pairing with Davy Arnaud (an attacking threat) could make Montreal's midfield one of the best in the Western Conference.
The biggest drama in the Impact's preseason has surrounded striker Brian Ching.
Ching was Montreal’s first selection in last year's expansion draft, but after some personal problems was given permission to leave and return home to Texas.
Before the draft, Ching threatened to retire if selected by the Impact, but performed a U-turn and reported to the team.
Now a trade looks likely and he could return to the Houston Dynamo in return for a 2013 draft pick.
If Ching does return to Houston, then Montreal will be seriously short of firepower up front.
This will make the height of Justin Braun an important part of Montreal's strategy. In 96 appearances with Chivas USA, Braun netted 24 times. His height and power mean that he has the ability to bring others into play.
A player who could benefit from this is number one draft pick Andrew Wenger. The versatile former Duke star has been earmarked by Marsch for an attacking role but is just as comfortable in defense.
The Hermann Trophy winner scored 17 goals in 2011 and will be looking to make a major impact in the MLS.
Despite this, Montreal will need to bring a real goal threat in.
The team has been linked to big name forwards Alessandro Del Piero and Louis Saha, but they appear to be nothing more than rumors.
Marsch held talks with Nicolas Anelka, but ultimately lost out to the money of Shanghai Shenhua.
It is all well and good chasing high-profile players, but time is ticking to bolster the squad.
How do you think the Impact will fare in their debut season? Who should they be looking to bring in? Comment below.
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