This is the third of a series of personnel management analyses targeting what the Montreal Impact should prioritize over the winter months in preparation for the 2016 season. Check in for an update every day organized by position.
Current Depth Chart:
1- Donny Toia
2- Ambroise Oyongo
3- Hassoun Camara
4- Eric Miller
Donny Toia on the left side and Ambroise Oyongo on the right side made for a very acceptable duo in Montreal in 2015. Toia was acquired in the Chivas dispersal draft whereas Oyongo was acquired in the trade with NYRB.Hassoun Camara's injury made it so that the Toia/Oyongo combo was the undisputed choice for the coach (As Eric Miller continues to develop and even miss time with the club due to his USMNT U23 duties). When Camara returned, however, we saw that he could slot in admirably both at centre-back but also on the right.
This is important because a big concern for the Impact back line this off-season will be the fate of Cameroonian international, Ambroise Oyongo. Oyongo was a hold out at the beginning of the season, and we know his current contract with Montreal has come to an end. Rumours swirled about European teams being interested in him. Therefore, the Impact brass will probably be planning for his likely departure while still hoping to re-sign him. If the beginning of the 2015 season was any indication, don't bet on Oyongo wearing the Bleu-Blanc-Noir in 2016.
That's not necessarily bad news as Camara is arguably not a downgrade. Camara offers more size, height, and power, and can push the attack from the right side just like Oyongo can as we've seen in previous seasons. The only real risk there is that Camara will tend to commit more fouls. Of course, fouls are a part of the game and only really have any impact in MLS when they result in yellows and penalty kicks (unless Didier Drogba or Sebastian Giovincoare taking them). Moreover, in Camara's few appearances in the 2015 season, the rate at which he committed fouls was surprisingly low. So perhaps there's less to be worried about here than that.
Recommendation: Plan as though Oyongo will not be back with the club in 2015 and as though Camara can do the job on the right side. Acquire an MLS-caliber full-back (no need to expend an international slot here) through the waiver draft/free agency in the event of injury and/or unsatisfactory play from either Camara or Toia. This will also make it so that Miller (not to mention Maxim Tissot) can remain lower on the depth chart and that Nigel Reo-Cokerwould not have to be pressed into action as a right full-back.
Check back into MountRoyalSoccer.com tomorrow for an analysis of the Impact's needs/wants at the full-back position over the off-season and every day after that for the holding midfielders, the attacking midfielders, the wingers, and the forwards.