On Thursday morning Mauro Biello took time to address the Montreal media after a heartbreaking defeat against the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The question now becomes when will the former Impact player have his 'interim' title removed?
The answer is... probably very soon. Biello pulled no punches during his press-conference stating that, "Yes, I'd like to be back as head coach. And I feel that the club wants me back also. That's where we're at right now."
With an excellent end to the 2015 MLS regular season and a victory in the knock-out game against Toronto FC, Biello quickly became a fan favourite. There are few that would bet against him returning as head coach of the Impact in 2016.
Hit the Ground Running:
Since taking over the head coaching duties of the Montreal Impact from Frank Klopas at the end of August, Biello finished the season with a 9-3-2 record. The addition of Didier Drogba, along with an improved sense of belief in the group helped the Impact finish in third place in the Eastern Conference (the clubs highest ever finish).
Biello also helped propel Montreal to their first ever playoff victory over Toronto FC, and at the same time marking the first Canadian team to win an MLS playoff game.
One of the themes after the disastrous 2014 season was the lack of leadership in the group. Although Klopas went out and acquired a few veteran players in the offseason, there was still something lacking to start the 2015 season.
Club captain Patrice Bernier expressed his displeasure and took a few days away from the team to regroup. Nigel Reo-Coker appeared unhappy, and Bakary Soumaré left the club shortly after being acquired (apparently due to lack of playing time). With the arrival of Biello, the leaders on the Impact were given the opportunity to rise to the occasion, and in turn played their best soccer under Biello.
The 'interim coach' showed a high level of trust in the veteran players, something that was severely lacking under Frank Klopas, and it paid off.
Mauro Biello has been around the Montreal Impact for a long time, and as such has seen a number of coaches come and go; Jesse Marsch, Marco Schallibaum, and Frank Klopas. During his time as an assistant coach, Biello came to understand the players at the club and how to get the most out of them.
This was something that Frank Klopas was never able to grasp during his time in Montreal, continuously shifting players around and often making ill-advised substitutions.
On to Next Year:
With a healthy soccer culture blossoming in Montreal there is much to be excited about in 2016; and very likely with Mauro Biello at the helm. The winning atmosphere that Biello has cultivated at the club has become contagious. The former Impact player is a big part of the reason that the soccer 'buzz' is alive and well in Montreal going into the offseason.