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Montreal Impact dangerously banking on a few X-Factors

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Frank Klopas continues to evaluate the strengths and limits of his players as he tries to establish a template starting XI.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite limited flexibility on the salary cap, the Montreal Impact was able to fully utilize the MLS roster rules when it signed Santiago Gonzalez as a '' Discovery Signing '' . This signing will strengthen the '' Bleu, Blanc et Noir '' on the offensive side of the pitch. But a few X-Factors continue to haunt Montreal.

Squad depth was a recurring theme in 2012 and 2013, though one could give a pass to  the Jesse Marsch era as the club was building its MLS foundations. Two years later, the pitch is still riddled with questions marks in different areas.

Even though he only played 12 games in two seasons, Nelson Rivas was re-signed by the club. The high-level of confidence in Rivas' health was squashed when the Colombian left the training camp in Orlando. He was sent back to Montreal to get treated for a hamstring injury.

But It seems that Rivas is going back to Colombia for treatments but also for personal reasons. This does not change the fact that Rivas' potential impact should have never been taken into account, especially when you look back at how injury-prone he was.

Rivas' potential is undeniable but Nick De Santis' bet has evidently proved to be the wrong one and it might be a good thing. At this point, the club has time to make changes as it is still early in the season ; whether it's recruiting a new player (Heath Pearce the trialist)or promoting from within.

Even if Hassoun Camara is versatile, Jeb Brovsky is valiant and Matteo Ferrari continues to be a leader, it is necessary to reinforce the back line. Adrian Lopez , a 2013 mid-season signing, is still recovering from surgery on his ACL.

De Santis just recently confirmed that Lopez will be joining the club next week but

It's a very delicate situation. His injury has to be managed -- Nick De Santis

There is a happy side to this story as Frank Klopas will be positively forced to give more playing time to young players. Part of the club's advertised philosophy, giving more chances to the younger players will be an interesting and necessary experiment for the 2014 edition of the Impact.

Wandrille Lefevre's comes to mind as a strong candidate to take a spot in the starting lineup, as a central defender. The Academy graduate could take advantage of injuries and squad rotation and be a breath of fresh air to a back line that needs renewal. Karl W Ouimette is another defender that can claim some MLS minutes.

But a tactical gap has haunted the Impact since joining the MLS when it comes to the back line: lack of offensive support from the fullbacks. Without blaming Camara and Brovsky, the club has never wanted or was never able to establish a way to consistently attack from the sides.

It is even more apparent when you observe the whole left side of the Impact that has become like a vacant apartment, looking for a renter willing to sign a one-year lease.


Putting so much pressure on Brovsky, offensively and defensively, has hurt the club a few times under Marco Schallibaum.

Being compact centrally will help us win the ball back quicker-Patrice Bernier

This lack of balance puts even more pressure on the Impact's ability to build its game. Justin Mapp and Patrice Bernier have been relied upon to do too much, too soon in the season. Although, Hernan Bernardello can be seen as a new signing as he did not play much in 2013 (8 games).

Even if the Impact's style of play relies on technical, experienced and mature players, as a whole, the team is not as mature as it needs to be.

This maturity needs time and labor, something that the players and coaching staff are aware of.

Be better defensively on the pitch is even more important this year. Without talking about specific formations and tactics, a strong defensive shell is a must to survive in a much improved Eastern conference.

Scoring goals was never a problem in both the 2012 and 2013 MLS seasons. Gonzalez should give more options to the Impact's game, making them less predictable. But until Andrew Wenger and Felipe Martins fulfill their respective potentials, we are talking '' what ifs '' and hypothetical situations.

But we should not forget the strong and reliable values that the club has. Led by Di Vaio the Terminator, Bernier the Maestro and the Mappillon effect of Justin, the dangerous weapon in the club's is still the counter attack.

Will the club invest in the long-term and build the foundations of its style of play for years to come?

Will the sole thirst for victory drown any plans to create, innovate and build for the future?