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Montréal Impact – A Week In Review: Injuries Mounting

The Montréal Impact lost to FC Dallas last Saturday by a score of 2-0. With a week and half between fixtures, IMFC will look to rally the troops and prepare themselves mentally for another difficult road game, this time against the Seattle Sounders.

Montréal concede the winning goal to a Mauro Diaz free kick versus Dallas last Saturday.
Montréal concede the winning goal to a Mauro Diaz free kick versus Dallas last Saturday.
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Since suffering their first defeat against a hungrier FC Dallas last week, IMFC have been prepping for an away fixture against what should be an equally hungry (and angry) Seattle Sounders next Saturday. In that time they’ve managed to do more harm than good, with news recently surfacing that Laurent Ciman injured his ankle blocking a shot. In other news, this is football: important players get injured ALL THE TIME.

Step Up Revolution (I don’t even know what that means, but it’s a good title/segue)

Donadel, Bernier, Oyongo, and now Ciman.  Here are 4 players that we all had penciled in as starters this season, and have/will miss time in the early portion of Montreal’s fixture list.

Personally, this only makes me more excited than anything else. Having to throw young players into the limelight early in a season is how we got to see Cameron Porter, and I think that turned out pretty well. It also gives me pause and wonder why we traded Eric Miller, but I’ll get to that later.

What I’ve liked about the Impact in the last two seasons is that the depth of their squad, quality-wise, has gone up. The team seems to field fewer and fewer players each year that I wouldn’t trust on the pitch, and this season’s edition of players is the most impressive by far.

You know the organization is doing something right when the only player that fans and pundits can think of criticizing is Calum Mallace. Let’s face it: Calum Mallace is not that bad!

Besides the fullback position, IMFC now have good, quality depth at every position. In light of the recent injuries, here are some players I’d like to seem more of:

Wandrille Lefevre

For one reason or another, Wandrille has not gotten a lot of love from his coaches lately. Recently passed over by Benito Floro for both upcoming fixtures against Mexico (something I find ludicrous), Lefevre has also failed to log a minute in the MLS this season. That part is less surprising as I can’t fault Cabrera for much on the pitch, though I don’t find the Argentinian much better (if at all) than the newly anointed Canadian international.

If Ciman’s injury is as bad as it looked, I expect Lefevre to see a lot of playing time. Last year he more than proved his worth, showing a natural instinct to anticipate plays, performing tackles resembling that of his teammate’s, Laurent Ciman. What also impressed me was his ability to see the field, and make long, cross-field passes to spring the attack.

Kyle Bekker

Bekker recently came out in the press expressing his unhappiness about not getting enough playing time. Though I don’t love it when a player speaks out against his squad, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the Canadian. Bekker is a player I could see playing in one of three central midfield positions.

I think people have the wrong idea about what it means to be a defensive midfielder. Yes, we all want an Edgar Davids or a Gennaro Gattuso. We all want a "bulldog" in defensive midfield, but beggars can’t be choosers. Sometimes you have to convert or try more traditional central midfielders, like a Bekker (and even maybe a Shipp), in that position.

Bekker is a heady player. He makes quick, effective decisions with the ball and sees the pitch really well.  I throw Shipp into the conversation because I think they are very similar players. Talent-wise Shipp has the edge, but they see the game the same way. Which is why…

Could Shipp play CDM like Aaron Ramsey or Santi Cazorla for Arsenal?

I know, most of you have no idea what I’m talking about. Let me give you the rundown. Both Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla are excellent offensive midfielders who have mostly played as defensive midfielders for Arsenal.

I say "mostly" because like Harry Shipp, both Cazorla and Ramsey have seen some playing time on the wing. Neither player was extremely happy out wide, nor did they excel there. Like Shipp, it simply is not a natural position for them.

Both Cazorla and Ramsey have found a home sitting farther back in midfield, and both are exceling at. Neither player is an excellent tackler, but both have quick feet and great vision, qualities that greatly help offensive breakouts.

I think Shipp’s greatest qualities are being wasted in a wide role. On top of that, he doesn’t have the speed to make himself a constant threat on the flanks. After watching three games, I see no reason why Piatti isn’t playing left wing and Shipp in the middle. Piatti is more than capable at tracking back and playing defence on the wing, and is clearly more comfortable there anyways.

But if they absolutely want to play Patti in the middle, I wouldn’t mind seeing Shipp play centrally behind Piatti. I said Mallace wasn’t that bad earlier, but I don’t see him as a starter, even with the recent wave of injuries.  I would like to see Bekker or Shipp in his position, with Venegas or Tissot on the left wing.

The fullback situation… is not great

For some reason or another, the Montréal Impact gave up on Eric Miller. He made a handful of starts in his time with the club, and though he struggled at times defensively, I saw a lot of potential there. What makes matters more confusing, Miller played RB, a position I don’t see much depth at.

Unless there is some kind of plan in the works to bring in a fullback in the coming weeks or during the summer transfer window, it’s rather puzzling why Miller was traded for money and a pick. Not thinking he’s starter quality is one thing, but with how thin the squad is at either fullback position, it might have been smart to keep him around.

A situation arose last weekend where IMFC needed a replacement RB. Hassoun Camara (a natural CB) was given the assignment, and it didn’t look like he was super comfortable there.  In truth, he simply never has.  Another potential fullback replacement was Maxim Tissot, but the young Quebecer was switched to the wing position last year, so again, it wouldn’t have been an ideal situation for him.  On top of that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play on the right side, so throw that caveat into the mix, too.

Now that Victor Cabrera is over his cramping issues, I have to wonder if he wouldn’t have been a better replacement for Oyongo over either Tissot or Camara at the RB position. He’s quicker than Camara and a better tackler than Tissot, and did an admirable job at that position for the first couple of months last season.

If by next Saturday the team finds itself without both Ciman and Oyongo, I would opt for a backline of Camara and Lefevre in the middle, with Cabrera and Toia on the flanks.  To me, that gives the backline more balance, and offers speed and steadiness in the right areas.