A more cohesive Montreal Impact squad took care of business against a weaker DC United team, that was resting many of its starters for an upcoming midweek CCL clash in Mexico. What did we learn? A lot of things but let's look at the following observations.
1- The back line is set
Or at least the players composing the backline. Laurent Ciman and Victor Cabrera paired up at their respective CB positions. Donny Toia and Ambroise Oyongo will patrol the wings but switched position, compared to last season.
The benefits of putting Oyongo on his preferred left side is going to have to outweigh the disadvantage of having Toia play as a right back. Though Toia seemed more comfortable in his second official preseason game on the right.
The other defenders will have to wait their turn to get significant minutes during the season but the quality of the depth is key for the club and Biello has enough tools at his disposal, in case of injuries, international call-ups and suspensions for ex.
Harry Shipp: Middle man
Newly acquired from the Chicago Fire, Shipp's best position on the pitch was not 100% clear at first. If we assume that Drogba and Piatti are untouchables on Biello's starting eleven, only 2 "classical" offensive spots are open, whether it's a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 for ex.
Wearing the #14 with the Bleu-blanc-noir, Shipp was mostly hovering between DC's midfield and defensive line. With the support of a strong Marco Donadel and a confident Eric Alexander, Shipp was not only able to find space and time but helped create it and add his touch to the game.
As the team was more fluid offensively, Shipp seems to be taking advantage of intelligent teammates in a squad that is looking to play an attractive but pragmatic brand of soccer.
Michael Salazar: Making his case
Salazar is desperate to get a MLS contract with the club and that is not a bad thing. He is doing everything in his power to get noticed for the good reasons and it's working.
Switching from a winger/second striker behind Oduro to a lone striker later in the game, Salazar has continued to show an eagerness to press the opponent, being aggressive defensively and offensively while being a threat. His 3 headers on target were a good sign of his awareness inside the box.
He continues to make his runs on the wings but most importantly towards the box. His athleticism is fun to watch also.
Nota bene: his eagerness almost cost the team a goal, early in the game, with a couple of errant passes. No one said he was perfect.
Dominic Oduro is in great form both physically and in front of the net as he scored a brace and was close to get a hat trick.
MTL - G-Evan Bush; D-Ambroise Oyongo (Louis Béland-Goyette**, 86'), Laurent Ciman (Wandrille Lefèvre 67'), Victor Cabrera (Kyle Fisher 75'), Donny Toia (Maxim Tissot 67'); M-Marco Donadel (Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé 75'), Eric Alexander (Kyle Bekker 67'), Harry Shipp (Eric Verso* 75'), Johan Venegas (Romario Williams 75'), Michael Salazar* (Cameron Porter 75'); F-Dominic Oduro (Calum Mallace 67')
*2016 MLS SuperDraft pick
**FC Montreal player
D.C.- G-Travis Worra (Andrew Dykstra 46'); D-Luke Mishu (Paul Torres 46', Taylor Kemp 70'), Jalen Robinson (Steve Birnbaum 70'), Markus Halsti (Konstantine Kolokotronis 46', Bobby Boswell 70'), Academy (Sean Franklin 70'); M- Rob Vincent (Lamar Neagle 35'), Collin Martin (Chris Rolfe 70'), Paul Clowes (Jared Jeffrey 46', Nick DeLeon 70'), Miguel Aguilar (Marcelo 70'); F- Julian Büscher (Patrick Nyarko 70'), Alvaro Saborio (Andrea Mancini 46', Luciano Acosta 70')
MTL - Oduro (Shipp) 5'
MTL - Salazar 18'
MTL - Oduro 31'
D.C. - Saborio 36'
MTL - Williams (Bekker) 86'