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Montreal Impact face both opportunities and threats in the first MLS free agency class ever

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With the Montreal Impact on the precipice of becoming one of the more dominant teams in the Eastern Conference, their involvement in the first-ever class of MLS players eligible for free agency could be pivotal in their 2015/2016 off-season.

Justin Mapp playing for the Montreal Impact in 2012. He was selected in the expansion draft and was on the team's inaugural roster.
Justin Mapp playing for the Montreal Impact in 2012. He was selected in the expansion draft and was on the team's inaugural roster.
Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

The Montreal Impact's season was ended in the playoffs after losing an aggregate series by one goal to the eventual winners of the Eastern Conference. This is the same team that made it to the finals of CONCACAF and left Mexico with a 1-1 tie against Club America heading to the Olympic Stadium.

So it's not surprising that the fans of the Montreal Impact are expecting the team to capitalize on the talents of Didier Drogba, Laurent Ciman, and Ignacio Piatti by surrounding them with the right supporting staff to succeed. If this were a poker game, we would be hearing calls for those managing the roster to go "all in."

The inauguration of MLS free agency provides team management with an avenue from which to do just this. However, like a double-edged sword, it also creates a somewhat threatening situation. We know that IMFC's F Kenny Cooper and MF Justin Mapp are available on the free agent market. Unlike Cooper, the Impact brass will likely pursue Mapp in an effort to keep him in Le Bleu-Blanc-Noir. Mapp represents one of the best offensive choices on the right side for coach Mauro Biello despite being injured for the vast majority of last season and offering little in the form of defense. Similarly, many other MLS teams are likely going to try getting in on the Justin Mapp sweepstakes.

Mapp, a Mississippi native, will have the choice to select from what we can expect to be more teams than just the Impact. This is the first time in league history that players will have complete authority over their playing destination, and it would be difficult to blame Mapp for exercising that right.

It wouldn't be far-fetched to assume Mapp is leaning toward going back to his home country, or even specifically to a team in the American South. We heard similar emotions from Davy Arnaud after he was traded to D.C. United. American-born players are likely going to lean toward American teams, especially in a league where dollar amounts are going to be similar due to salary cap restrictions.

And therein lies the threat of MLS free agency for IMFC.

The Montreal Impact risks coming out of the first ever MLS free agent "frenzy" with nothing to show in terms of gains and the loss of Justin Mapp. Though still purely speculation, it is not crazy to think that Canadian teams will fair poorly in the free agent market, now that it exists. Montreal may have to either outbid other clubs (which is difficult because of the salary cap) or focus their attention on non-American players.

What do you think about the Impact, MLS free agency, and Justin Mapp? Let us know in the comments!

Check in later this week to see which free agents I think the Impact should pursue.