Frank Klopas could not imagine a worst start to the season when he joined the Impact, back in December of last year. Marco Di Vaio's 3-game suspension hanged on the club like a dark cloud. The result: three games, three losses, zero points.
But this bad streak did not just appear out of thin air. The aftereffects of the free fall of 2013, under Marco Schallibaum, are still felt. Between a quiet off-season on the transfer/trade market and questionable "re-signings", the Montreal Impact did not really improve.
With Di Vaio's absence, it was feared that Montreal's attack would be anemic. But with a couple of goals against Dallas and a flurry of chances in Houston, it seemed that the "Di Vaio dependence" was just a fad. Progressing between Dallas and Houston, the Impact was back home coming off a strong defensive performance while able to create a few scoring chances.
But the Seattle Sounders quickly showed the limits of Klopas' team. But it's not normal to witness a team regress so quickly, especially when playing at home for the first time of the season. Sigi Schmid was tactically ready to counter Klopas' moves and had more pieces available to him.
Even with the absence of Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans, Seattle fielded a strong starting eleven. Though Alonso was in the lineup, the visiting team was still missing key players. This is not an unbalanced comparison between a MLS SuperClub and a decent MLS club, still in the infant stages of its development.
But Seattle took the time and effort to make off season moves, an off season that looked more like a rebuilding period if you did not know better.
As Chad Marshall and Kenny Cooper were signed by Seattle, the Impact insisted on bringing back Nelson Rivas and Andres Romero.
By keeping Andres Romero, the club made a conscious choice to believe in the Argentinean, who left an indelible black mark on everyone's mind during the MLS Playoffs.
Considering Rivas as a valuable usable asset , for the 2014 season, was clearly a gamble that was bound to fail. And it did.
As Gonzalo Pineda joined Seattle from Mexico, the Impact kept its faith in Felipe Martins as the Brazilian needed to redeem himself, after a sub-par year in 2013.
But what is his role exactly? Is he a bad #10 or a versatile player?
The decision to keep the left side of the midfield up for grabs seemed almost a forced choice. Sanny Nyassi took over that position, a player that only started eleven games last year.
Since Nyassi's knee injury, Collen Warner took over duties on the left side of the midfield but the ex- Real Salt Lake player is a box to box midfielder, no more and no less.
While keeping faith in Andrew Wenger to fulfill his potential, Nick de Santis brings in Santiago Gonzalez late during preseason , with not enough time to integrate the club properly. Gonzalez will need time to adapt and it is understandable but it just seems that it's not a luxury that the club has right now.
But it just seems that Wenger is playing against time and against himself, trying to prove that he can be the goal scoring forward he is supposed to be. His efforts are valiant and there is enough quality in his game to expect 8-12 goals per season. Will he deliver?
On the positive side, Eric Miller is a good surprise as the young right back is bringing added value offensively while learning the ropes on the defensive side of things.
Heath Pearce brings experience and represent another option to Klopas. But why make a move to get a left back, a position that needed to be filled, just two weeks before the season starts?
The Bernardello-Bernier partnership was eagerly awaited after a few glimpses last year. While Bernier is still getting his game legs back, the duo did not disappoint in its capacity to play smart and distribute the ball well.
I still have my doubts on its capacity to defend as well as it should, especially in front of a back-line that needs all the help it can get.
This team has enough quality to win games and to compete for a playoff spot . But is the management's expectations skewed? How many head coaches do you need to go through before looking at yourself in the mirror?
The Impact , in MLS, was built to win right away. Building the club around veteran, mature players is a clear sign of that philosophy.
Though it does not guarantee a mature style of play as a lack of necessary adjustments is coming back to haunt the club.