Montreal Impact 2018 season preview: Roster, projected lineup, schedule, national TV and more

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After a disappointing 2017 sparked an offseason overhaul, the Impact look to return to postseason in 2018

In November 2016, the Montreal Impact were an extra time away from the MLS Cup final.

It might be easy to forget how close that group of players came to the league’s top trophy given how 2017 went and the turnover on the roster this winter. Veteran stars Didier Drogba (departed after 2016), Laurent Ciman, Patrice Bernier and Ambroise Oyongo are among those gone from that squad, along with coach Mauro Biello.

It’s a a new day in Montreal as former Ligue 1 and Premier League manager Remi Garde steps into the head coach role. And with him enters a bunch of new faces, one from a familiar place (owner Joey Saputo’s other club, Serie A’s Bologna), others from MLS and some from beyond.

It will be a new coach with an overhauled XI, though star Ignacio Piatti remains. Will it be enough to get the Impact back to the playoffs?

How did the Montreal Impact perform in 2017

Montreal Impact

2017 finish: Ninth in Eastern Conference (11-17-6), missed the playoffs

Things unraveled for the Impact last season after finishing strong in 2015 under then-interim boss Biello and making a deep playoff run in 2016. While the Impact had good pieces, such as Piatti, on-loan midfielder Blerim Dzemaili and youngster Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla, it just never came together in 2017. Montreal mustered an average attack and below average defense en route to a disappointing campaign. 

Montreal Impact’s key offseason losses

Blerim Dzemaili Montreal Impact

Blerim Dzemaili was a big midseason addition for the Impact, but he’s off to Europe once more. So too is Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla, who signed on with the B side of La Liga giant Barcelona. Laurent Ciman was traded to Los Angeles, Patrice Bernier and Andres Romero retired.

Also departing was Hernan Bernardello, who rejoined Newell’s Old Boys. Ambroise Oyongo signed with Montpellier of Ligue 1. Midseason acquisition Shaun Francis and Hassoun Camara have also left the club.

Montreal Impact’s key offseason additions

Saphir Taider Bologna

The team’s conveyer belt with Bologna continued as Dzemaili left, with Algeria international Saphir Taider coming into that midfield slot. Canada international Michael Petrasso has come back home, coming in from Championship side Queens Park Rangers, while 20-year-old midfielder Jeisson Vargas joins up from Universidad Catolica.

The Impact also made use of the expansion draft by acquiring two LAFC selections, Jukka Raitala and former Toronto FC spark plug Raheem Edwards. They also brought in Ligue 2 veteran Zakaria Diallo on free transfer. 

Full Montreal Impact roster entering 2018 season

Samuel Piette Anthony Jackson Hamel Montreal Impact

Goalkeepers: Jason Beaulieu, Evan Bush, Clement Diop, James Pantemis

Defenders: Victor Cabrera, Zakaria Diallo, Chris Duvall, Kyle Fisher, Daniel Lovitz, Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, Michael Petrasso, Jukka Raitala

Midfielders: Louis Beland-Goyette, David Choiniere, Marco Donadel, Raheem Edwards, Dominic Oduro, Ignacio Piatti, Samuel Piette, Shamit Shome, Saphir Taïder, Jeisson Vargas

Forwards: Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Matteo Mancosu, Michael Salazar

Montreal Impact’s projected starting lineup

Montreal Impact Projected XI

Bush started 31 of the Impact’s 34 games in goal last season, and Diop is unlikely to challenge him. The team also added 20-year-old homegrown signing Pantemis.

The back line looks to be Petrasso, Cabrera, Diallo and probably Raitala, though Lovitz did start 19 games for the Impact last season. Duvall would be the choice if Petrasso can’t stay fit.

The midfield will have last year’s midseason acquisition Piette in a holding role, with Taider in a central midfield slot. Vargas will likely take up an advanced role. While Vargas can play a variety of attacking midfield positions, it seems likely Piatti will remain on the left side. Edwards could start anywhere wide, with Odoro another option at striker or on the right side.

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The Impact are a bit bereft of great attacking options after Mancosu scored six goals in 26 games last season. Jackson-Hamel, who scored nine times in 21 games (11 starts) is another option, though he fared better a substitute than a starter.

Montreal Impact’s national TV coverage

Remi Garde Montreal Impact

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Montreal Impact - Sunday, March 4, at 6 p.m. ET on TSN
New England Revolution vs. Montreal Impact - Friday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN
Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact - Saturday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m. ET on TSN
Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC - Sunday, Oct. 21, TBD on TSN

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