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From Road Trip to Road Trip: Stability in changes

Collen Warner vs RSL
Collen Warner vs RSL

With an important historical win at home against Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact gets back to work quickly and gets ready for another road trip. With 2 strong teams in FC Dallas and DC United, a rotation of the squad might be expected between both games but the main focus stays on the first game against FC Dallas. As I write this, the Montreal Impact is in the middle of their last practice in Montreal before leaving the city on Friday morning.

Jesse Marsch will continue to give different looks to the team at practice to find the right fit for the next 2 games. Only Jesse Marsch and his staff knows the starting lineup against FC Dallas and as much drama as some might want from Patrice Bernier benching the last 2 games, at the end, it is all about the coaching staff simply coaching.

The head coach is not necessarily secretive but in the same time will not divulge his whole plan. Very communicative and patient in media scrums, he is very clear in what he wants the squad to improve as a unit but never really pointing out at specific players. Even when asked about player X, Y and Z, he will always divert to the team and the unit as a whole and what is expected from all players; always in the context of the Us and never about the Me.

Jesse Marsch says

...Also deal with plays coming from wide positions because we still feel like that's something we need to get better at

He slipped in that comment while answering a question about the details of practice, asked by TVA Sports Elizabeth Rancourt. The offensive support of the wide backs (Josh Gardner / Tyson Wahl, Zarek Valentin / Jeb Brosvky) has went down since the game against New York Red Bulls. Plays from wide positions will also come the wide midfielders that have been Justin Mapp and Davy Arnaud for a while but we saw Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Lamar Neagle mark some points against Toronto FC.

The Montreal Impact wide midfielders have a tendency of cutting into the middle but it seems to also come from the fact that the outside backs/ full backs are being more cautious, especially that neither Jeb Brosvky and Zarekn Valentin are born right backs even though both have stamina for that role. Between Josh Gardner and Tyson Wahl, Gardner is the more offensive of the two with Wahl being the more complete player with better defensive positioning for now. Although both have this dangerous tendency to tackle on the ground their vis-a-vis in the box so that's something to try and avoid as much as possible but it's also a sign of their aggressiveness.

Look for more runs form the outside backs to give support to the midfielders whether to create spaces for their team-mates or to send more quality crosses into the box. At the end, one of the foundations of soccer (outside passing and such) is to put yourself in positions in which you outnumber your opponent and always look and work in small groups to achieve that goal. With more coordination and team chemistry, the automation of the way the team plays will become more organic than mechanical, second nature.

Making the starting XI just got harder

When talking about Ubiparipovic and Neagle, we can also add Collen Warner to the list of players that are fighting for a spot in the Montreal Impact`s starting XI. All 3 players played their roles perfectly with Sinisa mixing up wide midfielder and play-maker, Lamar giving a different look to Jesse Marsch on the left and Collen showing a good technical aggressive game next to Felipe Martins. Internal competition just popped its ugly head and this does not only apply to Patrice Bernier. Squad rotation will be a prominent part of the Montreal Impact while still being able to switch players into different positions, roles and being starters or not.

Stability is important in a squad but it is important for a coaching staff to confirm their hopes and expectations on all their players, at least the ones they want to count on. Do we want the same starting lineup every game and have a sense of familiarity and comfort? Why not but as a team that wants to thrive and evolve in all aspects of its game, there is stability in changes.