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IMPACT - Up Front, Bojan and Who?

Third and final part of a look at the Impact’s readiness for the new season, as Paul Vance takes a look at Thierry Henry’s attacking options.

SOCCER: SEP 18 Canadian Soccer Championship - Toronto FC at Montreal Impact
Bojan, the only one of the striking trident guaranteed a start, but goals will be expected.
Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Without the addition of a proven goal-scoring striker, or even a potential one thus far, the Impact’s main source of goals in the new season resides with fit again Piatti... if he hangs around, Algerian Taider and the little Serb/Spanish maestro, Bojan Krkic.

Bojan, 3 goals from 9 starts last season although rarely ever deployed in a main striking role throughout his European career, is likely to start the season as a false nine, unless unforeseen developments occur.

All three of his goals last season came when playing just behind a main striker in Maxi Urruti, but as covered in the previous article detailing midfield, it’s possible the Argentinian will not be the default starter up front in 2020.

The out and out striker role Urruti was asked to play last season may be less preferable in 2020, replaced by a twin-spearhead of Krkic and either one of Ignacio Piatti or Lassi Lappalainen. Undoubtedly the latter duo provides options, and Orji Okwonkwo is another who may feature centrally at times. Urruti despite a low output last season can still contribute and remains in the frame, providing a different option. It’s likely however he’ll spend more time on the bench than he did in 2019.

With a plethora of early season games and Champions League involvement there will be plenty of opportunity for all three recognized strikers to be utilized.

Aside from that, the potential pairing up-front of Piatti and Bojan is a mouth-watering one and something Thierry Henry must have under consideration. Two high-level, technically-gifted, creative forward players, each with the ability to convert chances would stretch the best MLS defences. Both Bojan and Piatti play and see the game at a more technically elevated level than most. It’s conceivable to think they are on similar wavelength and that the chemistry would work.

SOCCER: AUG 28 MLS - Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Montreal Impact
Maxi Urruti’s low output in terms of goals last season, could lead to more appearances on the bench, this.
Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Urruti a more technical player is still likely to get more starts than Jackson-Hamel, who might be the favourite to emerge from the bench any time a goal is needed. The Quebec City native has always done his best stuff entering a game from the bench. The lack of starting opportunities has been a source of frustration for the club’s all-time 5th highest MLS marksman, but it’s something Jackson-Hamel will need to find contentment with.

With Okwonkwo and Lappalainen each flexible enough to adjust between midfield and striking responsibilities if need be, a fit, healthy squad provides plenty of options and not just a little goalscoring threat.

The Henry-effect is also critical. Of course the Impact squad will already be lifted by the prospect of playing for an iconic figure who’s won absolutely everything in the game. But if anyone can induce improvement in his strikers and attacking players, surely it’s the Frenchman who once terrorized English Premier League defences for fun.

Minnesota United FC v Montreal Impact
Anthony Jackson-Hamel will be seeking to make the most of a busy and hectic early season schedule to stake a claim for a starting spot.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Overall Squad
There is undoubtedly more flexibility throughout the squad, the younger players are a year more experienced and there’s stability due to the absence of wholesale changes in the close-season. Performances fell short last year and many will wonder if the same collection of players can improve enough to reach the Play-offs for the first time in four seasons.

Of course a Piatti in the right frame of mind would be akin to getting a new player and it will be interesting to see how quickly new men, Romell Quioto and Joel Waterman settle-in and what they can bring.

But unless new arrivals appear, balance in the overall squad still looks heavily biased towards attack. Despite some exciting and talented players on board, it’s a squad that cannot disguise its defensive vulnerability. And, in the poll conducted last week by this outlet, nine out of ten respondents felt that the Impact does not have enough cover defensively.

Stade Saputo could be the place for goals in 2020.

Poll

Who should partner Bojan Krkic up front?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    He should be the lone striker.
    (2 votes)
  • 28%
    Nacho Piatti
    (14 votes)
  • 14%
    Lassi Lappalainen
    (7 votes)
  • 36%
    Orji Okwonkwo
    (18 votes)
  • 6%
    Maxi Urruti
    (3 votes)
  • 12%
    Anthony Jackson-Hamel
    (6 votes)
50 votes total Vote Now