My latest thoughts include a look at the Montreal Impact's Academy and how the youngsters are performing. With only 9 games left in the season, are Les Bleus ready for the grind and mental challenge of the MLS Playoffs?
The Academy : Effective or Defective?
What could have been tagged as an easy game against C.D Heredia, Impact fans had the chance to see many of the club's young players. Unfortunately, fans were met with a failed experiment and disappointment, once again.
The last time we saw a youth movement in the Impact's starting XI, Toronto FC scored 2 unanswered goals in the first leg of the 2013 Canadian Amway Championship semi-final.
Back in Guatemala, Wandrille Lefevre was poor in conceding an easy penalty kick. He has not shown the confidence of a Center Back , who has everything to prove. Maxime Tissot has been pretty average but a bit better than his first time around against Toronto a few months ago.
Blake Smith was the best among all the young guns , with a great performance. He has been the only young player that has accumulated some significant amount of MLS minutes. But as a whole, the young cubs have been thrown in the jungle, all at the same time. Expected to be at their best right away, their failure is understandable and predictable.
Involving them in some MLS games, at the end of them, is a perfect opportunity to slowly integrating them. A perfect example could have been the 5-0 rout of the Houston Dynamo.
Instead of seeing Davy Arnaud, Daniele Paponi and Andrea Pisanu come in, why not let the kids run around the field? The veterans' presence , at the end of the game, was pretty much useless at that point.
Conclusion: As long as they don't include the young players of the squad into MLS games, they will never improve and will stay average.
Is the Montreal Impact ready for the Playoffs?
With 9 games left, the Impact is still in first place in the Eastern conference. With 2 games in hand, Les Bleus still have the best point-per-game average in the league: 1.71.
Though, September will be rough for Montreal as the club plays 4 games in 10 days: 2 in MLS and 2 in the CONCACAF Champions League.
I'm still worried about the tired legs of our oldies and the unreliable legs of the youngsters. From what we've heard, the Impact will do everything to finish first in the league and stay competitive in the CCL.
Being competitive and win on different fronts requires a minimum of 14 reliable players. Right now, I count 12 on the Montreal Impact's full squad.
Andres Romero has been starting for most games but the Argentinean has been poor and inconsistent. Daniele Paponi's bright light has darkened after a strong start. He used to be the spark that ignited Marco Di Vaio, back in the month of May.
The Captain , Davy Arnaud, is clearly not the same player since his injury. He is not part of the key players anymore, so how efficient can he be as a substitute?
Blake Smith is still young and malleable so the Impact do not need to rely on him that much. Every minute he gave, every goal, every run is a bonus for the club but even more important for his development.
The Gambian international had flashes of brilliance but his inconsistency did not dissapear and he remains a super sub in my opinion.
Lopez only played 44 minutes in CCL as he was sent off for dangerous tackle.. We barely know if he can help the team right now.
Conclusion: The Young players have to be inserted , more and more, at the end of games. It will give needed rest to the starting XI, as the Impact has undertaken the final sprint of the season.