OK, it is was a short break between the crazy match played on Saturday in Portland and the upcoming match against the Montreal Impact who come to town on Wednesday night. I was able to do a Q&A with Benzinho of Mount Royal Soccer (the SB Nation blog dedicated to all things Impact). Here are here questions I asked and his answers:
1. As an expansion side (and yes moving from USL/NASL helps but still an expansion team) with a ton of new players and coaches, what are the realistic expectations of the Impact as well as that of the fans?
A. Few USL/NASL players stayed since the MLS switchbut great question to point out that an already strong organisation in USL/NASL might not be as lost coming to the Big Leagues. Coaching wise, I still sincerely think that Jesse Marsch is the perfect candidate to lead the Montreal Impact in the MLS dance. He is a rookie MLS coach but brings with him MLS experience as a player (he was always seen as a coach even when he was playing), as an evaluator of talent (US Soccer Federation) and as a person of character. His experience and pedigree was extremely important in the 2012 Super Draft and 2012 Expansion Draft as the team is being built the right way: in the long term without ever forgetting its winning tradition.
Both the Montreal Impact and its fans have the expectations of winning if not with results but in the attitude. With 4 games in, I am convinced that this team has shown more positives than expected so early in the season. In one hand, it is a sign that the team assembly process has started on strong basis but on the other, the expectations will climb as the team plays better but with some holes in some sectors on the pitch....Work in Progress.
The rest of our Q&A after the jump:
2. A lot of Impact players have come from other MLS teams, including your head coach, but who have been the new to MLS players that you think are going to make the biggest difference on the pitch for Montreal?
A. Matteo Ferrari - Patrice Bernier - Felipe Martins . Too soon to call them the Triangle of Bermuda ( in a positive way) but these 3 players will compose a big chunk of the nucleus of the team on the field. All 3 hail from European Soccer with Ferrari the most famous of the three, having played in Serie A , notably for Parma and Roma and with precious Champions League experience. Joey Saputo (owner) and Nick De Santis (Sporting Director) stumbled on him while looking for a Designated Player in Italy. Still not a 100% of his capacity and still learning the MLS game, Matteo Ferrari has been relatively excellent and a rock in the central defence of the team.
I always talk about it in different posts and will continue about the importance and the Felipe Martins - Patrice Bernier duo. The Italo-Brazilian hails from the Swiss League 2nd division and Patrice Bernier comes back from after 10 years in Europe. Both complement each other very well as ''holding'' midfielder with Bernier being the more defensive of the 2. But both offer precise passing, awareness of their surroundings and a vision that is underrated by many (not the Montreal Impact, that's for sure). With a lack of a classical playmaker #10, both will distribute the ball around the midfield feeding the side mid-fielders and fullbacks/outside backs as well as being the first line of defence.
3. A lot of team that come to Rio Tinto Stadium look to play behind the ball and slow the game down, both to deal with the RSL attacking style but also to deal with playing at elevation. How do you expect the Impact to play on Wednesday night?
A. I am not sure how to answer that. The Montreal Impact has not shied away from putting a high pressing game and not just sit down all game long. Obviously, when you defend, any team will find itself running after the ball and waiting for the other team but the Montreal Impact have shown an intent to attack without over-stretching
My gut feeling tells me that Jesse Marsch might align a 4-3-3 to have more coverage in the centre of the midfield with a possibility of seeing Collen Warner. Knowing that this feeling has no basis whatsoever outside a '' feeling '', Marsch enjoys the classical 4-4-2 with the importance of a bigger coverage of the pitch with 2 strikers pressing the RSL defence while still combining to wreak havoc. At this point, we expect Bernardo Corradi and Sanna Nyassi to be paired again up front as I dont see Justin Braun starting just for the fact from being a Salt Lake City native, as Corradi showed good things versus the New York Red Bulls.
With the elevation factor and lack of time to train in these conditions, the Montreal Impact with long flights (Mtl-Columbus-Mtl-NY-
Bonus Question) if there is one player you could take from the RSL roster and add to Montreal's who is it and why?
A. Jamison Olave. I believe in defensive solidity and the Colombian central defender is a MLS All-Star and would bring more stability at the back for an expansion team like Montreal. Some might have expected that I take a more offensive player but building from the back is a cliche that will never go old and Olave is welcome in my team, anytime.
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