Coming off of their best season since joining the MLS in 2012, the Montreal Impact will definitely be looking to repeat, and eventually do even more, damage than they did last year. With the arrival of great young talent coming out of the Super Draft, the likes of Michael Salazar and Kyle Fisher; the acquisitions of amazing young talent, like Lucas Ontivero and Harry Shipp; the stars deciding to stay and play another year, like Laurent Ciman, Marco Donadel, Victor Cabrera, Ignacio Piatti and of course the one and only, Didier Drogba; this team can have another stellar season. They can go even further than they did in the playoffs last season, and maybe even making it to the Championship Final and eventually bring home that precious trophy.
The Impact finished third last year in the Eastern Conference, which was quite fantastic for the way they kicked off the season. Halfway through the previous year, they were sitting in the middle of the pack, trying to find their true identity, who their leaders were, and what their style of play was going to be for the rest of the year. On a side note, they did make it to the CONCACAF final last year, coming close to lifting that trophy in front of the 60 000 plus fans that attended the game at the Olympic Stadium, but they fell short to a strong Club America side, and a particular Dario Benedetto netting a hat trick and absolutely destroying the Montreal defence. Let’s just say that was a very different Montreal Impact, compared to the team that actually finished the season and even the one we know today. One of the biggest reasons this team progressed into a top contender and finished the regular season in the top three was because of the managerial change. Frank Klopas did bring this team to the CONCACAF final, but he wasn’t the right man for the job. He was making little errors that would cost them huge points, and in the end lost the locker room, which is probably the worst thing that can happen to a coach. For example, lets just look at the Montreal Canadians for a second, their team spirit right now isn’t the greatest and there seems to be a division between players. Team spirit is what counts the most in any sport! Anyways, back to the Impact, instead of ending up like the Canadians of the present day, they decided to hire Mauro Biello as the coach, and that was probably the greatest thing that could have happened to this club. Why, you might ask? Mauro Biello has been the assistant manager to every coach that has managed this team since 2012. He has a great connection with every single human being in that locker room and it shows; like in that moment when Wandou Lefèbvre scored and went to hug Biello to show his appreciation for his newly admired coach. Biello also gave an identity to this team, counting on his veteran players to guide the younger talented players. He put a lot of faith in the homeboy himself, Patrice Bernier, which really had a great impact on this team. They once again had a true leader and an excellent man at that. With these changes, it was really easy to see the passion the team was playing with, as everyone was giving their hundred percent night in and night out. Most importantly, these professionals weren’t playing for themselves, they were playing for the Montreal Impact and especially for the 12th player on this team, the fans!
Obviously, the acquisition of one of the greatest African footballers and a future legend, Didier Drogba, really helped this team progress in the right direction. Not only did Drogba come in halfway through the season and score a total of 12 goals in as many games, but he also cheered up the locker room enormously, inspiring a numerous amount of players to perform better, and really raised the chemistry to the highest it has probably ever been. I have never seen a Montreal Impact team so tight, each player has each other’s back, and they also play as a team. I mean, who wouldn’t perform ten times better when one of the greatest players to play the beautiful game is on your team, in your locker room, there to win the MLS cup. Now, with the return of Didier Drogba and many other fantastic quality players this season, the Impact has no excuse not to go further than they did last year, and as a reward for their outstanding supporters, it would be quite breathtaking to see this team lift their first MLS trophy.
Written By: Brandon Brini
Originally Published: March 2016