Marco Schällibaum’s growing arsenal of players and tactics

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Mid-season reinforcements along with a growing set of formations to choose from, have given Schällibaum plenty of tactical options to push for the playoffs and compete in the Champions League.

Although the transfer window remains open until the 8th of August, it's unlikely there will be many more changes to personnel beyond last week's arrival of defensive midfielder Hernan Bernardello and center back Adrian Lopez.

Those moves were made to address the defensive frailties that were beginning to show in recent weeks where the Impact conceded 12 goals in 4 games over a 2 week period - a flurry of games in succession, which is something the Impact, will face much more of when Champion's League play begins in early August.

Both players being aged 26 will provide a much needed injection of youth, athleticism and skill to an ageing defensive core in Alessandro Nesta (37), Matteo Ferrari (34) and Patrice Bernier (33), as well as the added depth required to push forward in 2 competitions.

It would be hard to argue now that the Montreal Impact doesn't possess depth. Winning the Amway Canadian Championship in May - while maintaining a 3-1-1 record in MLS over the same period - clearly showed that depth at work even then.

With mid-season reinforcements now arrived, there's no question Marco Schällibaum has a complete squad and variety of tactical options at his disposal.

Since the beginning of the season, Montreal has used 4 different starting formations: 4-1-4-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and most recently 4-3-3. Each of the formations have shown benefits and drawbacks in different situations, hence the variety used by the coach to date.

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The 4-1-4-1 had shown promise during the 4-game win streak to start the season, but a lack of offensive firepower and predictability led the way for a change.

When the Impact acquired Daniel Paponi on loan from Bologna, the pairing with Di Vaio and the 4-4-2 began to address that lack of attacking flair and goals with a string of strong performances and wins. However, the aforementioned 12 goals conceded in 4 games earlier this month were all conceded using the 4-4-2.

In recent games, a 4-3-3 has been employed and showm that a balance between offensive qualities and defensive responsibilities could be achieved on the pitch. It also provided more freedom to the wide attacking players like Nyassi, Mapp, Romero and Blake Smith.

The biggest change will be in midfield where Bernardello will assume the defensive midfielder role from Bernier, or they could work well in a 4-2-3-1 pairing. Either way, expect to see Bernier closer up the pitch assisting in attack a lot more when they're both playing. Something he's admitted to being more his style.

A quick assimilation into the team will be what Schällibaum is hoping for while he figures out what his best formation and starting 11. Something he'll want to figure out quickly in a highly competitive Eastern Conference.

It's clear that with the mid-season reinforcements, with the past formation experience, and with the depth of players at his disposal - that Marco Schällibaum has an abundance of tactical and player options the envy of surely a few other MLS coaches.

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