The Enigma, which is Felipe

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

After an impressive start of the season with the Impact, this talented playmaker has yet to hit the form and consistency we had all hoped he would by now

I'll be the first to point out that looking at sheer numbers, Felipe is on pace to surpass his goal and at least match his assist tally from last year. In fact, he's already equalled the 4 goals in 30 starts he got last season.

And there are still a dozen games left.

Statistically, he's having a fine season. But it' not the season the Impact was hoping he would have as the central point of creativity and attack from the midfield - and that's the problem.

Inconsistency in his play is what has led to some of that criticism.

With streaks of 6, and another recently of 7 games without a point in the league, Felipe has at times seemed ineffective between those flashes of brilliance. This is also includes what we saw last Saturday in Chicago when he came on to score as a substitute.

His ability remains, there's no doubt of that. But with more than half of the season done, how can the Impact get the best out of the Brazilian?

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The Supporting Cast

Quality players had been added to the roster in the midfield during the offseason. Guys like Romero and Andrea Pisanu were brought in to help bring another dimension to the Impact attack - something that was looking a little stale at the end of last year.

Their impact (excuse the pun) has also been mixed, especially in the case of Pisanu who hasn't started a game since June.

Throw in the likes of a reinvigorated Justin Mapp, Daniele Paponi and Marco Di Vaio, and it's hard to see on paper how more scoring chances aren't being generated from midfield.

Then came Hernan Bernardello, and with him, the Impact have a new attacking midfielder in the mix - Patrice Bernier.

Playing all season in the holding midfielder position has limited Bernier's chances to show his quality in the final third, although he's still managed to rack up 3 assists in the process. With Bernardello assuming the defensive responsibilities, Bernier is now free to play further up.

We saw just what that could look like during the Impact's 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in the CCL last week. Bernier came on late in the game as the center attacking midfielder playing just behind Di Vaio and was bright in the few minutes he played.

It'll take some time for him to get back used to playing that position, but it looked promising. Almost like a new signing.

Your pick of formations

All this to say Felipe can no longer count on being the first choice center attacking midfielder anymore. Romero and Mapp had been tried there sparingly, but none will offer the upside Bernier can bring.

Should Schallibaum continue to favor a 4-4-2 at home?

It's hard to see where they will both fit in. All attempts at playing Felipe in a wide position have left plenty to be desired. He's just not the type of player built to take on defenders in 1v1 situations. His strengths lie in the middle of the park.

It's likely then that a 4-3-3 could become a solution to seeing Bernier, Felipe and Bernardello on the field together. This would also allow for the inclusion of two attacking wingers like Mapp, Andres Romero, Sanna Nyassi and Blake Smith to do what they do best.

This would heavily favor Felipes' style of play and could be the catalyst needed to elevate his play.

Marco Schallibaum will be hoping that the arrival of Bernardello will allow his offensive players to regain the form they showed at the beginning of the year. And there's no player he would like to see that happen to more than the diminutive Brazilian.

Saturday's test against D.C. United at home will be our first chance to see just what a best starting XI for Montreal could look like - let's hope it also marks the return to winning ways for the team and Felipe.

Can the Impact get more out of the Brazilian?

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