After their elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the Houston Dynamo, the Montreal Impact have big decisions to make this offseason, writes Goal's Nick Sabetti.
After the Montreal Impact’s dismal end to the regular season, it was always going to be difficult for the Impact to suddenly raise the level of their game several notches and beat the Houston Dynamo in Texas on Thursday.
The Impact were overwhelmed by a sharper and more incisive Dynamo side. Within the first half-hour, the Dynamo already led 2-0. A misread by Matteo Ferrari paved the way for Will Bruin to open the scoring in the 16th minute and 10 minutes later Boniek Garcia made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after the Honduran was rashly taken down in the box by Impact designated player Hernan Bernardello.
Marco Di Vaio, who was left isolated in the attack for most of the game, had the Impact’s best chance at the end of the first half, but his attempted lobbed shot on goal was parried away by Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
After attacking midfielders Felipe and Andres Romero, as well as forward Daniele Paponi, were subbed into the game in the second half, the Impact tried to mount a comeback, but their chances of doing so were completely spoiled after Nelson Rivas was ejected for yellow card accumulation, forcing the Impact to play the final 20 minutes a man down. Coach Marco Schällibaum’s decision to start Rivas after not playing for more than a year due to a series of injury problems ultimately proved fatal.
In the 72nd minute, Bruin capped off a very comfortable night for the Dynamo with a third goal. Adding further embarrassment for the Impact, a minute before fulltime, Andres Romero kicked out at Kofi Sarkodie and Marco Di Vaio clawed at defender Corey Ashe and both players were subsequently sent off, leaving the Impact to finish the game with eight men.
Thursday’s performance and the Impact’s cataclysmic end of season fall, leaves the Impact with a lot to resolve before next season.
None of the Impact’s signings this year have impressed. Wingers Andres Romero and Andrea Pisanu have been very disappointing. Daniele Paponi and Bernardello began their tenures in promising fashion but their performances have tapered off in recent months. Spanish central defender Adrian Lopez suffered an ACL tear within a few weeks of having been signed in the summer transfer window and it’s unclear what kind of state he will be in once he recovers.
Bolstering the outside midfield positions will once again be the main transfer priority for Sporting Director Nick De Santis for next season, but there will be plenty of other shoes to fill as well.
The Impact’s biggest change last year was at the helm, where Marco Schällibaum took over the coaching reins from Jesse Marsch. Schällibaum was only given a one-year contract last January, but it has now been automatically renewed for another season since the Impact made the playoffs.
Impact president Joey Saputo certainly doesn’t want to have to look for another coach this winter, but, at the same time, it might be difficult for Schällibaum to survive such a terrible end to the season. Of course, there’s a strong chance that the Swiss Volcano might not even want to return anyway.
This offseason may very well prove to be just as tumultuous as the season itself.
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