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Down the Line to the 2018 Season: The Defensive line

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POLL: With the camp of the 2018 season on its way, it is without a doubt that a position not only lacking depth but starters as well is the defensive line.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Montreal Impact Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

With the camp of the 2018 season on its way, it is without a doubt that a position not only lacking depth but starters as well, is the defensive line. Given that the preferred formation of Rémi Garde is a 4-3-3 we will assume that this is what the Impact will play with this season.

Chris Duvall: After signing a new two-year contract with an option for 2020 on December 29th 2017, Duvall has become part of the Montreal Impact plans for the next few seasons. Duvall is one of those players who does his job. He is not the type to go above and beyond but shows a lot of determination when on the pitch. Last season, he was decent with his defensive efforts making few mistakes and trying to catch up when he did commit one. This season one improvement we would like to see is more offensive efforts, given he will likely get a quite a few starts as things stand with the line up for now. Another aspect that will need to improvement is his cardio. Last season, on many occasions we saw him gasping for air and unable to finish the game. It is unfortunate to have to waste a change on a defensive player when you need a goal and would prefer to put on more offensive players.

Victor Cabrera: Cabrera is one of those player that can be great or reckless. In his 64 games with the Impact Cabrera has received 16 yellow cards and 1 red, which is surprising because he does make some questionable decisions at times that could be even more costly than they were for his team. Last season, Cabrera got injured and ended up losing his starter status to youngster Kyle Fisher. Luckily, for him at least, he did gain it back after Fisher got injured. From that point on we saw a different side of Cabrera but there is still some aspects lacking to his game. He tends to make some costly mistakes and looks lost on the pitch at times. It will be interesting to see what role he will play this season.

Kyle Fisher: A surprise young player from the MLS SuperDraft that was not expected to become as valuable as he did as quickly as he did. When Victor Cabrera went down with an injury last season, Fisher stepped up and showed a lot of promise. He unfortunately did not play much at the end of the season tackling multiple injuries from a concussion to a tibia injury. Kyle Fisher impressed many with his physical play, ability to made quality tackles and he is good at imposing himself in 50/50 challenges. His main issue is with youth and lack of experience comes mistakes. He did make some unfortunate mistakes last season but being coached from an elite like Rémi Garde may be extremely beneficial. No matter what comes from Fisher’s career, Ciman was an important influence and did help him develop. Being young and a solid defender it would be fun for him to become a key player of the Impact roster.

Wandrille Lefèvre: Having spent 5 seasons with the Impact and having only played 48 games Wandrille unfortunately never amounted to an important player out of the academy. He was reportedly informed that his services were no longer going to be needed for the upcoming season. This would be a good decision by the club, he is of no value to them and he will not get any more opportunities to play then he did last season.While this may or may not have played into the teams decision, last season he was a hot topic for the wrong reasons after making a bad decision and posting something he shouldn’t have. Hopefully for him, Wandrille will find another team that will value his services.

Deian Boldor: Acquired via loan from Bologna Boldor did not impress fans in his start in the MLS. In 5 games he managed to get a red card and an own goal. There was rumors of him being asked to leave. Boldor does not seem to fit the mold of the MLS and looked lost on the pitch when he did play last season. While he seems to be a player that is liked in the locker room fans want to see a center back that they can rely on, on the pitch and not social media.

Thomas Meilleur-Giguère: He could have just as well been included in the youngster list but Thomas spent a year training with Ottawa and although he player very minimal minutes he has a lot of promise. He seems very excited to get started with the Impact and show how he can be of help to the team. While he may only remain as a depth player for this season we never know what can happen and Fisher is the example of that. One aspect of his game that is especially interesting for the Impact is his free kick ability. We will have to wait and see if it is put to use but from a young age he pulled off some spectacular goals from different free kick positions.

Daniel Lovitz: A lot of disagreement surrounded this player last season and the Impact awarding him defensive player of the year was the cherry on top of the sundae for some. The controversy around Lovitz stems, in part, that he filled in for Oyongo a fan favorite. Lovitz makes errors but is not a bad player. He is able to press and help offensively coming up with many nice crosses. His offensive ability is there but is not constant, one game he can be stellar while on other occasion he has low pass completion rates and loses the ball too easily. Defensively he is often exposed by other teams and this is where awarding him defensive player of the year angered Impact fans. In games that teams don’t constantly try to attack down the wing he is able to play a better overall game although when teams constantly attack down his wing he ends up making costly errors. Again it is an issue of consistency.

Jukka Raitala: Newly acquired during the offseason the Finnish defender may surprise many fans this season. Raitala is a reliable defender. Over his career he has create nice offensive chances but this is not what to expect from him. He is one of those players that times his tackles really well. Having played in multiple different leagues he has faced off against some great players like Alexis Sanchez, Carles Puyol and many more.

Rumors:

Given the lack of depth, especially with the departures of Ciman, Boldor and Wandrille many rumors have developed about some defenders that the Impact have been trying to acquire.

Nehuén Paz: The rumor of the acquisition of this player started early during the offseason. This young center back would be an awesome acquisition for the Impact but maybe not a realistic one. Strong on all defensive aspects from tackles to headers he could help resolve issues on set pieces. The reason he may be a difficult acquisition is the Impact has reportedly offered a 2 million dollar transfer and it has not come to fruition. If anything, what seems to be happening is that he will be passing through Bologna before making his way to Montreal.

William Rémy: A player with a very similar profile as Paz, Rémy is a center back who has a little more attacking ability than Paz; for free kicks, headers on set pieces, etc. Defensively he is more of an agile defender that does get involved offensively. A player with such a profile needs to be match with a defensive minded partner just like both Fisher and Cabrera. This rumor remains in the very early stages of development.

Romaric N’Gouma: With the arrival of Garde a lot assumed he would bring some Lyon players that he may have crossed paths with at some point in his career. Reports from Lyon believe that this signing was done since December 30th although nothing has emerged from the Impact confirming this signing. N’Gouma is another on the long list of center backs the Impact has looked into during the offseason. If this signing is in fact a done deal the signing attempts of both Rémy and Paz are not out of question. N’Gouma more of a depth signing. He is not an experienced player like Rémy and Paz he is a young player with a lot of potential that hasn’t gotten his chance in Europe.

Louis Nganioni: While the club has a major issue at the center back position having only three wing backs is just as big a problem. Their lack of depth can be dangerous given the length of an MLS season. In the same report emerging from LYON OR that confirmed the signing of N’Gouma they also suggested a few players that the Impact was observing. Nganioni is an interesting one because he offers a very similar style of play as Oyongo. He is a player with experience in Ligue 2. His crossing ability and speed are both very impressive. Defensively he is great in one on one battles; trapping his player and dispossessing him.

Efraín Juárez: Very recent reports have emerged that the Impact was looking to acquire the 29 year old Mexican right back. Unlike Nganioni his attributes are more his physicality and strength. Given that this report only came out this week it is difficult to see how serious it is but Adriana Terrazes did release that he was not in the 18 during the last match because an eminent move to the MLS was coming for Juárez.

Stay tuned for the analysis of the the midfield and the forwards.