It was an ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ type of week for Joey Saputo. Commendations were plentiful in the direction of the Impact owner after announcing his Montreal re-org last Tuesday, but trouble wasn’t far away as Bologna, his Italian Serie A club nosedived at the weekend to a 0-4, home humiliation, in a game they were expected to win.
It significantly dented the Rossoblu’s chances of avoiding the drop, and hastened the exit of former Juventus and Milan favorite Pippo Inzaghi, replaced as coach, Monday, by Sinisa Mihajlovic. The Serb takes the reins at Stade Renato Dell’Ara for the second time, after previously being in post for almost 6 months in 2008/09.
Joey was probably glad to get back home where he could reflect contentedly upon the warmly received appointment of Kevin Gilmore to the President’s Chair of the Stade Saputo operation.
Gilmore – Extensive Experience
Gilmore, a 54 year old Saguenean, has extensive experience in professional sports management and administration. As well as working in executive roles for the Montreal Canadiens and the LA Kings, Impact’s new man has also served on the administrative council of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Gilmore’s biggest challenge will be to establish and maintain a successful playing squad complemented by the generation of increased revenue. Impact cannot hope to compete on a level financial playing field with the likes of Atlanta United or Toronto FC, so must seek to generate a model that ensures success on lesser resources.
Joey Saputo can look back on his quarter-century tenure as President with immense pride. Without his desire, drive and determination for the sport and for his local club, it’s hard to imagine us ever having an MLS team to follow here in Montreal.
As all this was going on, the playing squad had already arrived at pre-season camp in Sarasota, Florida, not really looking forward to the regime fitness coach Robert Duverne had in store.
But first day enthusiasm and youth paid off for Ken Krolicki, Mathieu Choiniere, Shamit Shome, Clément Bayiha and Émile Legault, the first finishers in a gruelling 9 km race under the hot sun that left Zakaria Diallo declaring of Duverne, “He’s crazy!”
One player who failed to make the trip to Florida was 21 year old Chilean, Jeisson Vargas. A loan deal to a club in South America seems likely, hence the omission. Nothing yet finalised, however noise exists that likely destination is Universidad de Chile. That won’t go down well at the club which developed Vargas, cross-town rivals Universidad Catolica.
Talking of loans, it appears that IMFC is about to acquire the services of right-side defender Zachary Brault-Guillard from Olympique Lyonnais. Brault-Guillard, a Quebecker of Haitien descent captained the u-20’s at the French club last season and joined up with the Impact last Monday for pre-season in Florida. If everything goes to plan he should provide the back-up in 2019 for Bacary Sagna, something that should also prove a great learning experience for the youngster.
Unbeatable, Piatti & Krolicki
Ignacio Piatti and Ken Krolicki brightened up Day 5 of pre-season by retaining the bike/running race title they held from last year. Everyone is partnered, one with a bike, the other on foot and the idea is to get both partners across the line together, first. They can switch roles whenever they want.
Piatti and Krolicki crossed the line in front of Mathieu Choiniere/Mikale Fontaine and Camacho/David Choiniere who finished third.
US International Honours
Elsewhere, everyone’s congratulations go to Daniel Lovitz on becoming the first Impact player to be capped by the USA while at the club. It’s living proof that you are never too old to win a first full cap. The Impact left-back now 27, was selected by new coach Gregg Berhalter for Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Panama in Arizona.
Daniel has been at camp with the US MNT since January 7. He’s looking forward to meeting up with his Impact team-mates but not before Tuesday’s second international of the year, in California, against Costa Rica. Lovitz played all 90 mins of the match v Panama, and will be hoping for more of the same against The Ticos.
Meanwhile in Serie C …
It wasn’t just as topsy-turvy a week for Matteo Mancosu as it was for Joey Saputo, however the former Impact striker did get another two, 90 min appearances behind him in the league. He didn’t add to the brace of goals recorded in his Virtus Entella debut however, and in fact Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Cuneo only came after a disappointing 1-2 midweek defeat at relegation-threatened, Olbia.
Mancosu’s team remain well-placed for promotion however. Currently they lie 5th with games in hand of all those who occupy the top four spots.
You may remember another former Bologna player turning out for the Impact in 2013, Daniele Paponi. Daniele is currently top-scorer at Juve Stabia with 9 goals in 20 appearances so far this season. Juve Stabia are 9 points clear of Trapani (a former club of Mancosu’s) at the top of Serie C (Girone C), are unbeaten after 22 matches, and look to be a sound bet for a future in Serie B next season.
Former Players in the News …
Finally, two more former Bleu/Blanc/Noir players have been in the news this week, one not so well known, while the other will never be forgotten for a certain last gasp pass to Cameron Porter on a highly-charged, memorable March night at Stade Olympique just a few years ago.
The ‘not so well known’ Bryan Arguez was named only once-ever in a Montreal Impact squad. He was an unused sub in Impact’s first-ever MLS away win at Sporting KC in May 2012. Now 30, he’s had a host of clubs, as well as representing the USA up to u23 level, and this past week signed a contract with Las Vegas Lights, Montreal’s first pre-season opponent in 2018. LV Lights play in the USL and have recently appointed ex-USA full international, Eric Wynalda, as coach.
Calum Mallace is a name comparatively more familiar to Impact fans. The Scottish-born midfielder has experienced frustrating times since leaving Montreal, as underlined by a mere handful of appearances for Seattle Sounders and LAFC over the past couple of seasons. During the past week Mallace put pen to paper for USL expansion side, Austin Bold. And it looks like he’s walked into a very interesting situation.
Bold are owned by Bobby Epstein, currently engaged in a PR battle with Anthony Precourt. Precourt has already been sanctioned by MLS to create a franchise in Austin after selling his stake in Columbus Crew. However, despite attracting criticism for his tactics, Epstein intends to build-up his franchise fan base and use public perception and City government to prevent Precourt from founding a team.
London Woodberry, the former New England Revolution defender is a team-mate of Mallace’s at Bold.