My latest thoughts include a look at the Montreal Impact's struggles against "weaker" teams. With #DempseyWatch finally over, I ask myself whether the Impact is able to attract and sign a "Clint Dempsey" type of player. Finally, a #IMFC talk would never be complete without talking about the Impact's captain , Davy Arnaud.
Underperforming against lower-seeded teams?
It has become a bad habit for the Montreal Impact to lose against lower-seed teams. It's even more frustrating as the Impact has shown the ability to get good results against top MLS clubs (Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City).
May 4th 2013 : Even if the San Jose Earthquakes won the 2012 MLS Supporters' Shield, the club was in bad shape. Having not won a game since March, the Quakes were ready to be slaughtered. After leading 2-0 early in the second half, the Impact leave the West Coast with only 1 point.
June 1st 2013: The Montreal Impact make a huge statement in MLS by beating Sporting Kansas City 1-0 at Sporting Park. In the midst of a red card controversy ,with Alessandro Nesta head butting Claudio Bieler, the win was a huge mental win for the club.
Two weeks later, Montreal had one of its worst performances of the season when it lost 2-0 to the Columbus Crew. That loss started what would be the club's winless streak a.k.a the Slump.
July 3rd 2013: Montreal goes to BMO field to face Toronto FC and it almost was a disaster.
After leading early in the game (25 seconds in), the Impact go down 3-1 , 25 minutes later. Once again, the character of the team (and a horrible TFC team) kicks in. The Impact leave BMO field with 1 point after getting a 3-3 draw.
The tie is as positive as it can get when you concede so many easy goals to one of the worst teams in the league.
July 7th 2013: That trend continues against Chivas USA, last in the western conference. The Impact only manages to get 1 point, thanks to a late penalty. Not beating Chivas USA is already problematic but not be able to perform well at home is even more concerning.
Just recently, Les Bleus played in front of a sold out Stade Saputo as it beat Sporting KC.(again) That winning momentum does not follow the team in D.C. as the Impact lose 3-1 to THE worst team of the league, D.C. United.
The 3-1 loss felt like an embarassement and you only need to follow the #IMFC twitter feed to understand what Impact fans felt. Add the 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire and making the MLS playoffs just got harder.
The Montreal Impact is far from a great team. Top teams win championships by beating lower seeded teams. Even if it's hard to win games in MLS ( and in all other leagues), the Impact are able to beat very good teams. But the bad habit of ''taking a day off'' against weaker opponents needs to go away quickly.
Can the Impact afford and have a player like Clint Dempsey?
The MLS world has been stunned by a twitter bomb, that became true. The most talented player of the United States returns to MLS.
What is even more shocking is that this US star is not coming back to MLS at the twilight of his career. At the age of 30, Clint Dempsey is still at the top of his game and the Seattle Sounders have just established themselves as a Top-Tier MLS Market.
Even if the Impact have great ambitions to win championships, I don't see a player of this caliber ever joining Montreal. The Impact have a bad reputation with US born players and staff members.
The Jesse Marsch experience went sour. Joey Saputo admitted himself that the league nudged him towards getting a US coach, who would help the club integrate MLS. We know how that story finished, that included a few chapters of a divided locker room.
The core of the team is not American, neither is the coach nor is the administration. Though Matt Jordan is with the club, he has been part of the fiber of Les Bleus as a player and now as Soccer Operations Director.
The Montreal Impact took a path in their attempt to achieve their goals and objectives. The "Clint Dempsey's" of this world are not part of that equation.
Is the Captain the real reason why Montreal can't play properly anymore?
After being on the sidelines for 2 months, Davy Arnaud came back as a late sub against the Colorado Rapids on June 29th. After a great effort to assist on Daniele Paponi's goal, Arnaud made a mistake , at the end , that cost the game for Les Bleus. In a disappointing 3-4 loss at home, the captain was blamed and even received death threats on twitter.
Since then, Arnaud is not the same. I don't think that the ''tweet" is the reason of his poor display. But since that error/injury/twittergate, the Impact has had 1 win, 3 losses and 3 ties. In that stretch, Davy Arnaud has been very poor with bad positioning and a poor technique.
Simple gestures have been very complicated for him and we all know that he's far from being a gifted technical player. What was his strength (aggressiveness, tackling) has not been up to par, especially in his role as a CMF/DMF.
Conclusion: I don't think that Arnaud is the scapegoat for all of the Impact's problems. But since he's playing in such a pivotal position, the club needs him to be at his very best or put in someone better: Ola Hernan Bernardello.
More from Mount Royal Soccer:
- Don't Call It A Slump but Call It Something: Impact 2-1 loss to the Fire is worrisome
- Chicago Fire vs Montreal Impact: Highlights, Stats and Quotes
- Social Story #DebatSSF Chicago Fire vs the Montreal Impact: Qui est #SaputoDor & #TropDePoutine
- Three Reasons Why Hernan Bernardello is Good for the Montreal Impact + Poll
- Soccer Sans Frontières Ep. 64 : Édition Futsal LF5E & Clint Dempsey