Club president Joey Saputo is starting to see the drawbacks to Jesse Marsch’s appointment as head coach, but the Wisconsin native has what it takes and will learn from mistakes.
MONTREAL - Coming off convincing 4-1 and 4-2 wins in its first two outings at Saputo Stadium and with Marco Di Vaio making his debut for the home side, many may have felt that playing the worst team in the league would have been a walk in the park.
It didn’t turn out that way at all, as the Montreal Impact were brought down to Earth Wednesday night with a 3-0 loss to a very determined Toronto FC side.
Just when things go well for the Impact, things go utterly wrong. They’re never able to get on a winning a streak and there’s always some sort of lesson to be learned. But the intermittency of the team’s success so far this season has less to do with the fact of being an expansion side and more to do with having a head coach who’s at the helm for the very first time.
Whether it’s not putting on players to defend the lead against Dallas, or going for the win against Chivas USA instead of trying to conserve a draw, on in-game changes alone, the Impact have lost a significant amount of points this season.
The loss to TFC on Wednesday was yet another example of poor in-game tactical adjustments.
When Torsten Frings opened the scoring in the second half for Toronto, total panic ensued and Marsch switched to a very risky all-out attacking lineup with a back three. It was the kind of set up you would leave for the last five or 10 minutes in a game, but there wasn't a handful of minutes remaining: there was 25.
To make matters worse, Jeb Brovsky, even after the changes were made, was still playing at left fullback instead of playing in the middle with Hassoun Camara and Shavar Thomas. The Impact’s right hand side was subsequently totally exploited and with Brovsky pushing forward at fullback, there were only two players back to defend.
Marsch was asking for it, and Toronto would easily score a second and third.
After giving up the first goal, one that goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts should have saved, the priority had to be settling the players down and keeping the ball. Toronto was playing a great game, so the Impact might have lost anyway, but an embarrassing 3-0 loss could have at least been averted.
There were other issues too. Marsch didn’t find an answer for Felipe getting taken out of the game by Frings. Perhaps some guys needed a rest, and maybe Marco Di Vaio shouldn’t have gotten the start, especially considering how little time he’s been with the team.
But as much as the changes were excessive, and a 3-0 loss at home to one’s rivals always leaves a bitter taste, the Impact need to stay positive. Marsch has put together a great group of players and a team with a lot of depth and experience. Very few people would have predicted that Montreal, at the half way point of the season, would be in the playoff race or even on pace for ten wins.
Club president Joey Saputo was furious with his team’s performance against Toronto, saying on Twitter following the match that the loss was “an absolute disgrace.” However, seeing Marsch’s almost funeral like demeanor in the postgame press conference, it’s clear that no one is more critical of the head coach and his team’s performances than Marsch himself.
He’s also never been afraid to look himself in the mirror, evaluate where things have gone wrong and learn from his or his team's mistakes.
It will take some time, but he’ll get things right.
Nick Sabetti covers the Montreal Impact for Goal.com Canada.