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Montreal Impact facing challenges of higher expectations

Is it fair to say '' MLS Cup or Bust'' ?

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Didier Drogba, Evan Bush, Ignacio Piatti and Laurent Ciman compose what we call the Montreal Impact's spine. From the goalkeeper to the star striker, Mauro Biello's squad is being built to win games, to aim for the stratosphere of MLS and eventually go all the way to the MLS Cup Final. I repeat myself again, there is no greater equalizer than a playoff format to wipe out all of your season accomplishments and reward the hot team, the sharp team, the hungry team.

The Drogbuzz and an exciting 2015 playoff run gave the Impact brass and fan base a taste of a juicy filet mignon. But they want the whole steak. As pieces are coming together, from the transfer market or returning players, Montreal is hoping to create a team unit that can not only survive a long MLS season but be a MLS Cup contender.

But once again,  the great equalizer MLS Cup is (Yoda voice)

As the team has already unsurprisingly gone through  its shares of ups and downs, the first 9 games of the season have shown the true colors of the squad at this stage. Neither perfect nor bad, the Bleu-Blanc-Noir is still looking for its bearings as a team. If there is talent at the individual level, the sum of that talent is far from giving the expected product and/or result.

Meaning, just adding another top striker to play with Drogba or an world class offensive midfielder is not necessarily the magical solution, not that it won't help. If you are confused to see Montreal play so well against Vancouver and look disorganized against Colorado, you should not be surprised. As much as your expectations have gone up, the players seem to be still looking for each other on the pitch.

That could be indicative of a few things such as:

  • Rookie coaching staff : Biello, Di Tullio and Nancy have never taken the helm of a professional club before this year. Biello was the head coach on an interim basis but it's only this year that he needs to articulate and apply the vision of the game  and how he wants implemented to the players. As much as the players already know him, he still needs to master his trade and pass that on to eventually see it blossom on the pitch. 

    I just hope that this staff is given the necessary time to build a real identity on the pitch, something beyond the short-term vision of wins and losses.

  • X-Factors : Lucas Ontivero, Johan Venegas and Harry Shipp seem to be a little bit lost since joining the Impact. If Shipp and Ontivero will have some leeway, how long will the team be patient with the Costa-Rican international? Where is that Venegas that almost single-handledly eliminated the Impact in the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals for Alajuense?  What is his role on the team, position?

    Whereas for Shipp, he still has not found his rythym yet but a lot of expectations have been put on the Chicago-native since coming in via trade from the Fire.
At the end, the season is way too long to give the Impact a specific tag. But for the purposes of extrapolation and seeing into the future, the squad is talented and good enough to make it a contender. But as expectations get higher, the challenges are only getting harder.