Changing a head coach after only one season in charge might not bode well for the stability of a club, but keeping the same core of players certainly helps.
Having established a strong base in its expansion season, the Montreal Impact will not undergo a roster revolution in the current offseason - which is a good thing - but the club will still be looking to tweak and improve the roster in the coming weeks and months as it looks to make the playoffs immediately next season.
Though MLS unfroze its teams' rosters on Monday, the Impact’s primary transfer objective is the acquisition of creative midfield players, and since trades within MLS won't provide all too much in that regard, the Impact are likely waiting on the start of the international transfer window in January to make the bigger splashes.
But on this side of the pond, one player who was on the Impact’s radar – and should still be – is Houston Dynamo and Canadian international defender André Hainault. The Montreal native’s contract is up with the Texas side, and he is reportedly uninterested in extending his stay. Though he will probably be inclined to try his luck in Europe, the Impact should make every effort to sign the player.
For starters, he’s a local boy and if the Impact really wish to expand their reach in the Quebec market they need more Quebecois players gracing the Saputo Stadium pitch in Impact colors.
The team also needs help at centre back. Nelson Rivas, Alessandro Nesta, and Matteo Ferrari are all injury prone - especially the first two - and the Impact really need someone that they can count on at centre back if they want to get through the long and physically demanding MLS season and compete in the CONCACAF Champions League as well - if they get there, of course.
Next season will also likely be the last for Nesta and Rivas with the Impact, and there will be some big shoes to fill very quickly, so why not start filling them now? Hainault did have a dip in form this year, but he’s still 26 and, being a defender, his best years are still ahead of him.
Hainault has the added value of being adept at fullback as well.
He won’t be, by any means, easy to acquire as there will surely be demand for his services both in MLS and abroad, but, nevertheless, he should be on the Impact’s priority list for next season. He’s going to want a raise on his current base salary of $150,000 USD, but all considering he’s well worth it.
Down the road, two local natives like Karl Ouimette and Hainault partnering together at centre back would certainly be an exciting prospect for Impact fans and one that, if it were to ever materialize, would definitely make large waves across La Belle Province.
The MLS re-entry draft
Impact midfielder Justin Mapp and defender Shavar Thomas have been listed for Friday’s MLS re-entry draft. Midfielder Josh Gardner had also been listed, but he was exchanged to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday for a second round pick in the upcoming January MLS college SuperDraft - the Impact would have lost Gardner for nothing had he been selected in the re-entry draft. A second round pick isn't all that much, but it beats nothing. Noteworthy talent is, at best, scarce in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft, but the Impact could get lucky. They did after all get midfielder Calum Mallace in the second round last year, and he’s turned out to be a very solid addition, so you never know.
The odds are that Mapp will not get chosen in the re-entry draft, but the Impact would be willing to take him back on a reduced salary - $ 210,000 USD is a lot of money for a player whose been largely inconsistent. If Mapp isn't selected on Friday, he'll be much more willing to settle for less.
Thomas, who turns 32 in January, will have a difficult time finding a team in MLS that will want his services and joining a NASL team might be more likely at this point.
If Mapp and Thomas do leave the Impact, it would mean that there'd only be five players remaining – defenders Zarek Valentin and Jeb Brovsky and midfielders Sanna Nyassi, Collen Warner, and Davy Arnaud – from the 13 players former coach Jesse Marsch had acquired from the expansion draft and the first trades a year ago.Not only did the Impact part ways with Marsch, they've also disposed most of the baggage that came along with him. And we probably haven't seen the last of it.