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No Impact From the Bench

A statistical look at Montreal’s quite frightening lack of goal power from the bench...

SOCCER: JUL 06 MLS - Minnesota United FC at Montreal Impact
Omar Browne - the last Impact player to emerge from the bench and score an MLS match-winning or tying goal (v Chicago at Stade Saputo on 28 April 2019)
Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A goal down midway through the second-half, perhaps two down at half-time, or maybe level with ten minutes to play in a game you feel you can win. The coach will always look at his bench to see how he might change things or unlock the opposition.

Not something Montreal Impact has often profited from, at least not in recent seasons.

MLS Goals from players emerging from the bench have become a rarity at the club these days. The last one, the only one this season in fact, came from Ballou Tabla two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game with New England at Red Bull Arena . It didn’t matter, the Impact trailed 1-3 at the time and the final whistle blew just after.

Under Remi Garde, over almost two seasons, only four players emerged from the bench to score, and on only one of those occasions did the goal earn points. That was when Omar Browne’s 83rd minute strike at Stade Saputo against Chicago Fire gave the Impact the points, April 2019.

A few days earlier, Anthony Jackson-Hamel (who holds the Impact record of goals from the bench with 8) had scored twice in the last five minutes after replacing Maxi Urruti at New England, but the Impact was already ahead in that game. Credit to AJH for helping consolidate victory, but they weren’t directly point-winning goals.

Montreal Impact v DC United
Marco Schallibaum had the best scoring rate for substitutes in MLS, slightly better than Biello and Marsch.
Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

In Mauro Biello’s 79 games in charge twelve players emerged from the bench to score, his predecessor, Frank Klopas had seven scorers in 57, and the Swiss, Marco Schallibaum seven in 34. Impact’s first MLS coach Jesse Marsch, saw the feat performed five times (34 matches).

Of course the logic applied doesn’t say everything about bench-strength, but it says something about the team’s ability or lack thereof, to claw their way back into games from a losing position, or kick-on and win from a level position.

There’s not much in the way of firepower to call upon when adversity descends. Montreal Impact does not do comebacks very well at all currently.

Something else which highlights the deficiency and some others, including questionable character, is that the Impact has lost every one of its last 19 MLS matches in which they trailed at half-time, a run stretching back to May last year. Extend this to the last 40 matches where they trailed at the break, and on only three occasions has defeat been avoided.

Hardly championship form.

Our table (below) shows Marco Schallibaum, Mauro Biello and Frank Klopas had the greatest success in regards to getting goals from the bench, perhaps why they used more substitutes than other managers. Did they have better quality players available to call upon, or it is simply a case of rising standards across the League?

In 204 games combined they saw substitutes scores 32 times, or a goal every 6.4 matches. Since 2018, that dynamic changed dramatically. In the 90 games under Henry, Cabrera and Garde combined, Montreal Impact substitutes scored just 5 times, or a goal every 18 matches.

It may not say everything about bench-strength, but it’s not meaningless either. In the last three years Montreal can point to only one substitute, Browne as described above, whose goal clinched a point, or in his particular case, three.

To state Montreal lacks back-up firepower is like saying it snows during a Quebec winter...