As is the nature of the Montreal sporting scene, big things are expected of its teams.The Montreal Impact are no exception and Goal.com looks at notable resolutions for 2013.
Irrespective of being able to make the playoffs, 12 wins and 42 points in an expansion season would usually be deemed a triumph, but not for Montreal Impact club president Joey Saputo. He was admittedly disappointed with how the first season went and expects better things from the Impact in season two.
Naturally then, the club will have its fair share of resolutions for 2013.
And here are some to consider:
Win away from home
The Impact excelled at home last year, winning ten, drawing three and losing only four, and that dominance will likely continue in 2013. Making the playoffs, however, will require success away from home and that’s an area where the Impact were particularly woeful last season. Out of 17 away fixtures, they suffered 12 defeats and managed only two wins and three draws. With a meager 14 goals scored and a whopping 32 goals conceded, the Impact had the worst away goals differential in the Eastern Conference.
After parting ways with Jesse Marsch last October, the Impact will be hoping that the forthcoming experienced European coach, who should be announced in the next week or two, will have the right tactical remedies.
Some new personnel would help too.
Better wide play
The 2012 season underwent a positive turnaround when Marsch decided to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation in the end of May. And the 4-2-3-1 will likely be the preferred formation in 2013.
Though the formation change did bear some fruit, the Impact will need to improve their play on the outside of midfield if it wants to become a playoff team and a genuine title contender. Considering the Impact’s current crop of wingers, the squad could really use an upgrade or two. Justin Mapp, Lamar Neagle and Sanna Nyassi were all largely inconsistent and captain Davy Arnaud, while very much appreciated for his industry and leadership, doesn’t bring all that much in the way of creative spark.
On Thursday, Bologna FC announced that winger Andrea Pisanu would be joining the Impact on loan. The Sardinian, who turns 31 on Monday, will certainly bring some quality to the side, but his recent history of injuries is a definite concern.
Avoid off-field controversy
Whether its banning a reporter from asking questions at a training session because he reported that the expanded Saputo Stadium wouldn’t be ready in time – a report that ultimately proved correct – or Marco Di Vaio having to return to Italy over allegations of failing to disclose knowledge about match fixing attempts by former Bologna teammates, the Impact have made finding themselves in the news for the wrong reasons an almost habitual occurrence.
But in these first formative years in MLS, it’s important that the club create a positive image of itself. Sometimes you do get unlucky – the Di Vaio allegations a case in point – but the club needs to make a determined effort to avoid off-field controversy.
The Impact have said that the next coach will need to be able to speak both English and French. This policy might not be exactly advantageous as far as coaches are concerned, for it may limit the club’s options going forward, but it certainly shows that the club is keen on improving its public image in 2013.
Give the coach some time
The old saying of patience being a virtue does have its merits and with soccer there’s no exception.
Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t win a league title in his first years with United, but in time, has become one of the world’s most successful managers.
It’s too early to say if parting ways with Marsch after only one season was the right call, but a coach does need time to acclimate, implement his style and see his vision through.
Barring a disastrous season, the next coach should be given a second year.
Qualify for Champions League
Making the playoffs will be difficult, but making the CONCACAF Champions League knockout stage is an easier endeavor, and would definitely bring a great deal of hype.
Impact fans will not have forgotten that now famous Champions League quarter final match-up against Mexican side Santos Laguna which garnered over 55 thousand fans at the Olympic Stadium. And those were the days when the Impact were still playing in the second division.
Montreal might not yet be an MLS town, but it’s certainly a soccer town, and hearing the words of “Champions League” ringing about will surely make waves.
So qualifying has to be a priority.