Starting a new season with almost the exact same lineup from a very successful previous season is a strong advantage and in many cases a luxury. You’d expect to see a good flow, some continuation, but more importantly a well oiled machine pushing in the same direction. Well that wasn’t the Montreal Impact on Saturday night.
The team seemed unfamiliar with each others movement and stuck in preseason mode showing no sense of urgency. No one showed the hunger and fire on display by Godoy and Wondolowski. The Impact also failed to test Earthquakes Goalkeeper, registering 4 shots, but none on net.
No need to ring the alarms just yet. We still have a very talented roster and a few younglings that may surprise. It's just one game into the season, and we can bounce back from a 1-0 loss to a rebuilt San Jose team. A new system will take a few games to settle into. We’ve seen quite a bit of experimentation with formations the past few seasons, and IMFC has usually managed to pull it together and finish strong.
Let’s talk about the system
Now, what is a concern is this new system we’ve heard so much about during the preseason. We’ve heard “possession soccer” and “high-press defence” mentioned in almost every interview thus far. I’m all for possession style soccer, however a roster needs to be built around that system. One can’t just turn a counter-attacking team into a possession style team in the span of one offseason, it just doesn’t work that way.
Furthermore, 69% passing accuracy vs the Earthquakes is cause for alarm when we’re preaching possession soccer. That's gotta be much higher, and it screams the question: “do we have the right players for this system?”. Even more concerning is the defensive high-press system we’re hearing about.
Our average age is too high to pull this off. Besides the age factor, we just don’t have enough players with that style soccer in their DNA or the stamina required. We’ll just end up playing hoofball by the 25th minute and commit cheap fouls cause we can’t keep up, just like we saw last night. hoofball by the 25th minute and commit cheap fouls cause we can’t keep up, just like we saw last night.
One team played high-press in San Jose and it wasn’t the Impact.
Biello’s men only lost by one goal, so technically we were still in it until the end even reduced to 10 men. I expect Mauro to analyse this game very closely and come out with a few technical adjustments next weekend. If Mauro Biello has taught us one thing, it's to show him some faith, he’s earned it.
Next game is at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday night. The Impact report over 32000 tickets already sold to watch the Bleu, Blanc, Noir take on the defending playoff champions Seattle Sounders.
Mauro Biello will have to tinker with the backline, as Hassoun Camara is suspended due to his red card. Victor Cabrera and Wandrille Lefevre are both reportedly injured with no word on if they’ll be able to play on a week's rest. Seattle will also be looking to get their season on track, as they also suffered an opening loss vs the Houston Dynamo.