Nick Sabetti: Montreal Impact in messy state of affairs

After a dire start to the season, Joey Saputo promised changes at the Montreal Impact, but the club needs a lot more than what he has in mind.
MONTREAL -- It was inevitable that such a poor start to the season would prompt a strong response from Joey Saputo.

The Montreal Impact lost again Saturday, their fifth defeat in only nine league games, and remain in last place in the Eastern Conference. Just before the game’s conclusion, via his Twitter account, the Impact’s club owner and president promised fans he would take action.
Every team has a bad season sooner or later - that’s not so much the issue here. The problem is the Impact have shown a severe lack of foresight. Everyone saw this coming, except them.
After the dreadful end-of-season collapse the team suffered last fall, the warning signs were in plain view. That’s when the Impact needed to show some urgency. That’s when they needed to make changes. But those changes didn’t come - at least, not the right sort. Marco Schällibaum was jettisoned and in came Frank Klopas, but clearly coaching wasn’t the issue.

The last thing the Impact want to do right now is discard another coach, especially after giving Klopas a strong vote of confidence only two weeks ago. According to a source with close ties to the club, Saputo wasn’t implying a coaching or staff change with his tweet, but changes to the roster. The trouble is that some players are starting to lose confidence in Klopas.

Other sources informed Goal Canada this week that a few starting players are even prepared to let some games drop if it can force the hand of upper management to do away with Klopas. If the Impact continue to lose and the situation inside the locker room continues to deteriorate, they might not have much of a choice, even if, for the most part, Klopas isn’t to blame.

Firing a third coach in as many seasons would certainly reflect badly on sporting director Nick De Santis, whose public esteem seems to be reaching new lows by the week.

De Santis is primarily responsible for the Impact’s current plight, and Saputo’s comments on Twitter certainly heaps pressure on him to deliver in the coming transfer window this summer. De Santis’ record as a sporting director hasn’t been stellar. Except for the Jack Mcinerney trade, his moves in the last three transfer windows have been underwhelming.

This summer might be his last chance to get it right, but it won’t be easy because the Impact don’t have a whole lot of room to maneuver within the salary cap and several players with heavy contracts will be difficult to displace. 

But what’s most at stake here, more than just the current season, is the Impact’s public image. Fans are becoming disgruntled with the team’s lack of technical direction, and the club’s often hostile manner of dealing with mainstream media is poisoning what little coverage it gets. But what hurts the club the most is the way it continues to favor friends and family in key roles instead of proven professionals.

If you want to give fans what they deserve, give them genuine change at the very heart of the club’s operations.

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