Going into Wednesday night's game I didn't really know what to expect. Well actually I was anticipating the typical friendly game. You know... slow pace, not many opportunities with no ambience from the crowd and perhaps, the elderly person sitting next to you resting his head on your shoulder and taking a snooze. However, last nights game between Olympique Lyonnais and the Montreal Impact was anything but that. So many positives came out of this game.
Even though it was a "friendly", the Impact played against one of the toughest teams in the French league. It gave them the chance to try a new formation, players, approach and most importantly forget about a horrific performance against the Houston Dynamo. In my opinion, this game will really come in handy. Its now or never for Montreal. They need to put the wins together in a hurry if they want to make the playoffs. And with such a positive performance, maybe it will change the mindset and permit them to give a final run at the playoffs.
Here are my Top 5 positive notes from this game that might help us make that run...easily could have gone for 10!
1- EVAN BUSH - What a performance. I think most fans who have been following the team since at least last season know how great a keeper he is. He made miraculous saves last year. I heard so many comments about how small he is compare to other keepers. But Evan's speed, ability and reaction time are so quick. The fact is, we always knew Bush was the future of this team. Some of us thought he should be the starter since the beginning of the season (myself being one of those believers). Last nights performance proved that he's ready. He showed so many things that Ricketts has been lacking. Certainty, positioning/angles, confidence, handling of the ball.... just to name a few. Unfortunately Marsch quickly confirmed that Ricketts was his man after praising Bush's play. Maybe a certain president will have a say.
2- ALESSANDRO NESTA - Yes. A-L-E-S-S-A-N-D-R-O N-E-S-T-A. I know, I still can't believe it myself. We're talking about one of the greatest centre backs whose ever played the game. Yesterday was an opportunity to take out the rust. He hasn't played since his last game with AC MIlan in Serie A and yet he looked pretty good out there. His ball control looks effortless. The way he reads the game is just outstanding. It's normal that in the second half he looked a little tired but Nesta at 50% is better than half the centre backs in the league ( I don't think I'm exagerating by stating that either). He will be such a huge asset to this team. Unfortunately, he may have arrived a little late to save this season, but never say never.
3- The positive return of RIVAS and FERRARI - Rivas is simply just a... BEAST! His anticipation on plays is impeccable. Right now, I really believe he's the strongest with the Impact on anticipation, marking and to win those one on one battles in the air. Ferrari's return was also positive. Even though he only played 30 minutes, he showed some great speed and confidence as usual. For Matteo, it was just another day at the office. Montreal may just have the best back line if they can stay healthy.
4- KARL OUIMETTE - What an outstanding player. Karl is a natural CB. The last two games he's played RB and has adapted so well. Marsch is going to have a hard time sitting him down an putting Valentin back in. Ouimette has shown so much intelligence, patience, skill and reads the play very well too. He doesn't look like a 20 year old. He looks like he's been playing in the MLS for years. Karl is an inspiration to all Impact Academy players and he should be for all young Quebec soccer players as well. It's scary to thing this guy has so much talent and will be practicing with Nesta, Ferrari and Rivas on a regular basis. The player of the future is suddenly no more. Ouimette is the real thing and he will be a contributor until the end of the season.
5- THE 4-4-2. So Marsch said it was an experiment. I think it will be more that just that. It might just be the new formation. The 4-4-2 created more stability in the midfield. The team recovered more balls than usual and moved well up and down the field. The forwards were well supported and ball possession was much better too. It allowed the players to make the short passes and move the ball around much quicker. Many questions are out there though. Who will be the two CB's? Will Ferrari be moved to RB? Is it Ouimette? Will Iapichino be the new LB or is Brovsky taking it back? (Iapichino played a strong 1st half against Lyonnais) Who will play the midfield? Is Felipe going to come back to a more offensive roll? Mapp or Neagle? Warner or Bernier?
The only position where there are no questions asked is up front. Wenger continued just where he left off and scored a highlight goal. Di Vaio will only benefit from having another striker with him. A number of fans said Montreal needed a midfielder to feed Di Vaio. I disagree. Bernier and Felipe are more than capable to give him the balls he wants. It all comes up to timing. The real problem has been who supports Di Vaio when he is up there? With the 3-1 formation upfront, Marco was left alone more often then not. There's no way he'll get passed the double or triple marking. With Wenger up there, the one-two's off Felipe's feed's will open up the play and permit more offensive opportunities. All this being said, I really truly believe Montreal will change it's system and go with the 4-4-2.
Well, those are just a few positive notes that came from the Lyonnais game. But again, this friendly can count more than we think. It might just turn the season around for our boys.
Remember IMFC FANS..... WHATEVER IT TAKES!!! ALLEZ MTL!!!
p.s I'm a first time writer and would like to thank Sofiane Benzaza who is the founder of SBNation's Mount Royal Soccer and gives us the opportunity to speak about the team we love the most! A la prochaine!!!