After a poor start to the season, the Impact's upper management has been hastily trying to rebuild the squad and turn the season around.
When, in the offseason, De Santis was asked whether or not the Impact's revolving door of coaches would create an unstable situation at the club, he quickly pointed out how the roster, by contrast, had remained mostly unchanged, and that that was where “real stability” was found.
Perhaps for the reason of wanting to remain coherent, very few changes were made during the winter period, despite the fact that last year’s late-season collapse strongly suggested that the club needed new players.
The Impact’s subsequent dismal start to the season revealed what was previously feared by many: a roster full of holes and fragility. After the embarrassing 4-0 home defeat at the hands of Sporting Kansas City in April, which prompted club president Joey Saputo to promise the club’s fans change, the Impact’s upper management has been in overdrive, scrambling to improve the squad. So far, since the start of the season, the Impact have transferred six players, all the while, remarkably, acquiring eight themselves.
|The Impact’s ongoing roster overhaul
Blake Smith (loaned)
New Designated Player signing Ignacio Piatti looks like a quality acquisition, but Montreal won’t be able to count on his services until August, or possibly even September, as the Argentine attacking midfielder has been given special permission to play with San Lorenzo for the remainder of that club's participation in the Copa Libertadores — San Lorenzo will face Bolivar on July 23 and July 30 in a two-leg semi-final.
As much as Montreal has undergone so many changes, it might still not suffice to make a playoff run. The Impact are still fragile down the middle; they don’t possess great depth in central midfield, and it remains to be seen whether new signing Gorka Larrea can really deliver as a starter. At centre back the Impact have plenty of options, but they don’t really have a stellar or especially reliable pairing? Matteo Ferrari and Heath Pearce have done well in recent outings, but for how long can they maintain the same high-level play?
The Impact might still be missing some pieces in order for them to become a playoff team, but making so many changes so quickly and fixing a team almost on the spur-of-the-moment probably isn’t the most effective way of building a title-winning squad. In this way, there’s certainly a greater risk of making poor decisions and there's little room for error under the limited salary cap structure of MLS.
It’s all reminiscent of De Santis’ first year in charge as sporting director in 2011 in the NASL, where after an awful start to the campaign, a host of changes were made to the team to try and turn the season around and make the playoffs. It nearly worked: the Impact only missed out on the final day.
But MLS is a different league. The Impact no longer have the financial advantage they used to have in the NASL today, vis-à-vis other MLS teams. MLS requires a much more delicate hand.