2013 was supposed to be the year of the Montreal Impact. Half-way through the season, under Swiss head coach, Marco Schallibaum, the team was on a pace to fight for an improbable Supporters Shield run, challenging MLS royalty.
But the reality of a Major League Soccer season , and what many MLS observers/fan know as " Dominic Kinnear time ", kicked in and reminded many that it's not how you start but how you finish. The previous statement assumes that the team stays relevant in a playoff race long enough helping to motivate the troop.
2013 vs 2015 : Finish Strong
During the last 7 games of the 2013 season, the Impact's record was of 1W - 1D - 5L. After losing its last game of the season against Toronto FC, the club had to wait for a New York Red Bulls 5-2 win over the Chicago Fire (led by Frank Klopas) to get a playoff berth.
The rest is history as many will not forget the debacle at BBVA Compass Stadium where the Impact lost 3-0 to the Dynamo that included red cards to both Andres Romero and Marco Di Vaio.
What is left of the 2015 season will be key for the club's obvious aspirations to make the MLS playoffs , reinforced by both its activity on the transfer market and changes on the staff with Klopas' firing replaced by Mauro Biello.
The Didier Drogba effect has galvanized a talented group that needed inspiration and a leader on the pitch. He not only fills a gap in the striker position but is making everyone around him better. If Ignacio Piatti is one of the best offensive midfielders in MLS, his game can only get better with Drogba playing perfectly the role of a pivot striker and what a striker!
MLS defenders will not only need to cover one of the best strikers of his generation but need to take into account of a plethora of talented offensive midfielders that have a capacity to score goals and a willingness to participate on the defensive side, when properly motivated aka the Biello effect, who has not lost a game yet.
As the back-line continues to impress, led by Laurent Ciman, the team is setup to be able to handle a final sprint towards the MLS playoffs. If the group is less fragile mentally and more motivated on the pitch, injuries have not been kind but have also shown the depth and quality throughout the roster.
With the next 2 games being played at home against D.C. United and the Chicago Fire, the Impact finds itself in a must-win situation yet again. Following that home-stand, 4 consecutive away games awaits the Bleu-Blanc-Noir that could definitely use some of that CONCACAF Champions League magic sprinkled with some MLS parity.
If the 2013 MLS season was disappointing in the way it ended, the club has no excuses this time around with a more talented squad, more depth and Didier Drogba.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it