The rumor mill surrounding the Montreal Impact has been heating up over the last few weeks, with various media sources reporting that management have been in touch with big names such as Juan roman Riquelme, Boriello, and of course Alberto Gilardino in efforts to bolster the team's attack ahead of the coming season.
Despite all the rumors, on Monday, it was 2014 team MVP ,Andres Romero, grabbing the headlines, as the team announced that a permanent transfer was completed from Brazilian side Tombense FC. Due to MLS policy details of the deal can't be disclosed but the 25 year old has signed a multi-year deal with the Impact.
What a difference a year makes!
This time last year, fans appeared to have lost faith in the Argentine. He showed flashes of brilliance but also appeared to be extremely inconsistent, and who could forget the complete melt down in Houston. Surely, the blame for Montreal's debacle cannot be placed solely on his shoulders but it definitely cast a shadow of doubt on whether he belonged or whether he was out of his depth.
One year later, Romero, was easily the most consistent player on the field for the Impact, finishing the 2014 season 3rd in team scoring with 6 goals and 3 assists in 29 games. Also impressive was his shot totals from last year: out of 31 shots on net , 20 were on target. With accuracy like that, the Impact will definitely want to see the 25-year old take more shots at the net to generate more offense.
Whether it was having his family alongside him here in Montreal or having a year to adjust to the league, he was a much stronger player in 2014. After sitting out the season for 3 games due to a ban (post-Houston debacle), Romero appeared focused and fully committed to put his first season in MLS behind him.
It was clear that Frank Klopas liked what he saw as he leaned heavily on him throughout the season, only Felipe Martins and Hassoun Camara played more minutes than he did (2,185).
Impact Head Coach Frank Klopas
We are very pleased to have secured Andres's permanent transfer from Tombense FC [....] I was confident that we would reach an agreement.
Regardless of who fills the void for the Impact in the attack, Romero will be one player the team will look towards to generate offense through the midfield with fellow Argentine Ignacio Piatti. Although the roster is not complete just yet, with Romero's contract finalized, and Felipe Martins, Justin Mapp, Issey Nakajima-Farran, and Piatti all confirmed for 2015, the players will surely have to bring their A game if they want to secure a spot in Klopas' starting 11.
Nick De Santis took a lot of heat for some of the players he helped bring in during previous years, but unlike Daniele Paponi and Andrea Pisanu, Romero appears to be a solid choice. All that remains is to see whether he has peaked or if he can take his game to another level, or at least pick up where he left off.
With the CONCACAF Champions League fixtures against Mexican side Pachuca coming up fast, management this time around is doing everything in their power to make sure players, coaches and the fans do not have to suffer the way they did last year.
Once Klopas has his roster set, it will be up to him to make sure everything comes together. The good news for fans is that the Impact are much better 'on paper' this year than they were a year ago, and if a few more pieces to the puzzle fall into place, it could be a great season ahead for the fans and the city of Montreal.