With Jesse Marsch gone and the next coach undetermined, there’s really no telling how the Montreal Impact will look like next season, and the club risks going backwards.
With the postseason training camp in Italy under wraps, the Montreal Impact players are off on vacation until the team reconvenes in January to prepare for next spring’s MLS season. But for the Impact’s Nick De Santis, these next few weeks will be the busiest time of the year, as the club’s sporting director will look to strengthen the team in the offseason with new acquisitions.
Having parted ways with head coach Jesse Marsch two weeks ago, however, much of the energy that could have been spent on strengthening the Impact roster is now being spent on finding a replacement at the helm instead.
Usually, when a club is without a coach, certain mechanisms of the team are brought to a standstill. Signing players and staff, for example, are decisions that a coach would make or, at the very least, help make.
But it’s been business as usual so far.
Notwithstanding the fact that they have no coach in place, the Impact signed a new fitness coach, Paolo Pacione, and had four players on trial during their Italy tour. This activity suggests – in case it wasn’t obvious enough - that De Santis has free reign to do as he pleases.
The members of the technical staff that are currently in place, with the exception of Mauro Biello, are sitting ducks. The fate of Mike Sorber and Denis Hamlett are in the hands of De Santis and whomever the forthcoming coach will be. A new coach will almost certainly want his own staff in place and it is thus extremely unlikely that Sorber and Hamlett will be returning next season. Even Pacione’s place will likely be in serious jeopardy as well.
The Impact have yet to reach an agreement with a head coach and a final announcement is expected to be made in the next two to four weeks. Certainly the sooner a decision is made, the better, for the next coach will need some time to settle down in Montreal and prepare for the team’s preseason. Funny enough, the Impact’s preseason dates and locations have already been decided. Hopefully the next coach doesn’t mind.
The Impact's core players do, however, seem like they will be very welcoming of a new coach, especially a very prepared European one. Patrice Bernier and Matteo Ferrari told Goal.com during the Italy trip that the next coach needs to be someone that can maximize the team’s potential, help the team get better on the road, and help the team improve in defending set pieces – all things that Marsch had been unable to accomplish.
Perhaps the team would not have been able to make significant steps forward with Marsch still in charge, but it would have certainly kept things stable. A new European coach could help the team make giant leaps, but he could also considerably damage the work that’s been done so far.
And it remains to be seen whether the new coach will be able to withstand the often intrusive tendencies of the Impact’s upper management, while bringing the club to the next level.
Though a strong base has been put in place in the Impact’s first season, the future is blighted by uncertainty.
Nick Sabetti covers the Montreal Impact for Goal.com Canada.