Part 2 of the '' 3 Questions'' between Mount Royal Soccer and Hot Time In Old Town. Our answers to some Fiery questions (yes cheesy and lame :-) )
The Impact started their first season off in MLS with an energy filled, jam-packed affair at BC Place in Vancouver. Although the Impact lost 2-0, what positives did Impact fans take away from the match?
I feel that many of the fans have seen the negatives in the game with some naïve defending on both Whitecaps' goals. On the positive side, that same backline was still able to tone down the hot Vancouver attacking trident of Hassli- Le Toux - Chiumiento . Yes the score line was 2-0 but Matteo Ferrari's solid performance was sort of expected but nothing proves it better than 90 minutes of play. Tyson Wahl is not your classical CB but brought some physicality and an excellent first pass on the ground or through long crosses.
The Impact made a very good signing in the offseason by prying Donovan Ricketts away from the LA Galaxy. It's obviously important to build a good team around a quality goalkeeper like that. Other than Ricketts, who are some of the other player additions that are key to Impact success this season?
Sanna Nyassi, Matteo Ferrari, Felipe Martins, Davy Arnaud, Patrice Bernier
Sanna Nyassi is that speedy second striker that will hover around a pivot-striker and use his speed to find gaps. His availability in the Expansion Draft was a good thing for Montreal that not only builds around veteran MLS players but also the young MLS wolves that need playing time and a chance to prove naysayers wrong.
At 32, Matteo Ferrari is not old for a central defender. With Serie A and UEFA Champions League experience, the Italian center back joins the team and brings experience, skills and leadership at the back. If you were a cap-ologist, Matteo Ferrari was not signed as a Designated Player so that's good value to get a player of this caliber at only 70-80% of his potential as he is still getting his full match fitness. He did not look ridiculous playing against one of the most feared striker in MLS, Eric Hassli.
Currently, in a 4-4-2, Felipe Martins will be important for contributing to create offense. The Brazilian-Italian midfielder played the last 3 years in the 2nd highest Swiss league and showed good speed, interesting 1-on-1 skills and smart passing. His role and positioning will be key in a ‘' flat-ish ‘' midfield of 4 (not a diamond-shaped midfield for the least). His ability to go up front and be the extra man to offer that numerical superiority seems to be important in Jesse Marsch's plans.
I am confident to say that Patrice Bernier has a similar role than Felipe Martins but with a more physical aspect. He is not the tallest out there at 5'9 but is very strong with good ball protection and ball distribution. He will be the first defender for the Montreal Impact with a lot of aerial battles to come and scrappy fights in the heart of the pitch. He will be the link, as will be Felipe Martins, to get the ball out quickly and horizontally.
Davy Arnaud represents the typical MLS veteran that many teams rely on as a leader off and on the pitch. The attacking midfielder enjoys going up front to score goals but he also enjoys going up and down the pitch and across to give solutions to his teammates as well as find some. Captain of the 19th MLS Franchise, he will bring in more than just leadership in the locker room but actual positive results in the midfield as he seems to be comfortable on the side or in a more central position.
One of the main strengths of the Fire this year is a stacked midfield along with blazing speed up top (Oduro) and on the wing (Nyarko). Based off the Impact's first game against Vancouver, how do you think the Impact midfield and back line will do against the Fire's speed?
Honestly, I don't see many center backs that can match Oduro's speed for 90 minutes. The Ferrari - Wahl duo will need to be smart in their positioning and not over-commit. The fullbacks/outbacks of the team are not the greatest defenders so that might be a weakness that Nyarko and such can capitalize on. Jeb Brovsky is a physical, no-nonsense player that currently fills in the right back position. He has good speed to counter his opponents but is still a young MLS player so his positioning will be important to his success. Josh Gardner likes to go up and support the attack with very good crosses so he might get caught out of position for obvious reasons. The fullbacks are not alone and the side midfielders Arnaud-Mapp will need to pinch in a lot to help out their fullbacks when defending.
The best way to counter a speedy team is not to start running with the ball in the midfield and get rid of it as fast and as precise as possible. The ball will always go faster than the man and quick, precise passing is key to any soccer game in my opinion. Keep the ball and make the other team run and avoid rookie mistakes with speedy guys that will gladly run 70 meters to score on you. Set pieces will be key especially corner kicks.