Winning records, points in the standings and trophies are the ultimate markers for a successful organization. If not ultimate, winning is the most tangible marker and the Montreal Impact has nothing to show for. With zero points in two games, the Texas road trip was not kind to the Impact.
To start the season, Frank Klopas was starting with a handicap as his star player, Marco Di Vaio, would be purging a 3-game suspension. With a full preseason to prepare the team, Klopas had enough time to start planting the seeds of his system and how he communicates with the group.
Against FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo, the Impact was much more involved in creating chances than many observers expected, especially for road games. Offensively, the club's ability to create dangerous chances was impressive when you look back at the quiet off-season, as per player procurement.
But the "veteran" technical players of the Impact stepped up and compensated for Di Vaio's absence. The club's contagious enthusiasm against FC Dallas was entertaining to watch. Though, the defensive discipline was sub-par as Montreal conceded three goals and could have avoided 2 goals out of 3.
It was no surprise to see the back-line suffer but it was more of the defensive structure, as a whole, that did not hold up in Frisco, Texas. The return of Patrice Bernier to the lineup , against the Houston Dynamo, was key in a Klopas-reshuffling of the deck.
The aforementioned reshuffling included Collen Warner playing as right midfielder, a role that he fulfilled quite well for a good chunk of the game against Houston. More of a box to box midfielder, Warner did play as an offensive midfielder, during his days at the University of Portland.
But his role was to help shutdown Dynamo's left side and support MLS rookie, Eric Miller.
Side by side, Hernan Bernardello next to Bernier has the potential to be one of the most talented central midfield duo in the league. As Bernier was under-estimated by league observers, Bernardello has caught everyone's attention.
Both players can control the pace of the game while feeding balls to the offensive players of the club. If only, they could score more goals.
When talking about lack of scoring efficiency, Andrew Wenger comes to mind as the young striker had a few chances in Houston. After scoring a raging header against FC Dallas, Wenger was able to get three good scoring chances against Tally Hall.
Wenger has proven to have a strong character and a professional mentality in the way he approaches the game.
Physically sharper than ever, the young man has accept the pivot striker role he was given. Much more engaged physically, with his back to the opponent's center backs, he has improved and seems more aware of his surroundings.
With Santiago Gonzalez looking for more minutes and Di Vaio's imminent return, Wenger's boost of confidence came at the right time for himself and the club.
The good news is that the Impact was able to adjust quickly from one game to another. From a wide-open game in Dallas, the " Bleu, Blanc et Noir " was much more efficient as a unit against Houston.
We are talking about smarter ball possession, a knack to find spaces between ''enemy'' lines and a much improved defensive performance.