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Impact’s Red Card Woes...

They’ve been here before...

MLS: Montreal Impact at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Referee Drew Fischer shows a straight red card to Rudy Camacho in the 37th minute of the recent 1-3 defeat to Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Much has been written and referred to in social and mainstream media since last evening’s 1-4 reverse at Red Bull Arena.

It wasn’t a pleasant return to a former stomping ground for Thierry Henry who also saw his team incur a third red card in as many matches leading many to suggest there is a discipline problem in the ranks.

They have a point. All three red cards were highly avoidable, and totally unnecessary. The coaching staff and senior professionals within the team must now work hard to maintain team spirit and morale while getting the message across to less experienced colleagues that such impetuousness simply will not do.

But it’s not as though we’ve not been here before with the Impact.

And in fact, before Maciel begun what’s become a mini-trend in the first meeting at BC Place, the Impact’s discipline under Henry had been better than under any previous coach; 12 yellows and no reds in 9 matches.

270 minutes of football later, in terms of red cards, it’s now the worst of all (3 in 12 games).
Hopefully what we’ve just seen is a blip and the run concludes as quickly as the rash of reds began.

But back in 2015 the Impact was in a much worse place where discipline is concerned. Red cards in three successive games as happened recently, is not even a first. It happened back then too, extending to something even worse, stretching to red cards in five matches, part of a 7-game stretch; two under the outgoing Klopas (Aug 2015) and three under the incoming Biello (Sep 2015).

Remi Garde when he came to the club addressed a quite chronic disciplinary record that had gathered apace under the pair.

MLS: Montreal Impact at Chicago Fire
Former coach Remi Garde was successful in addressing some chronic on-field disciplinary problems during his two-year spell at Stade Saputo.
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

For any coach with at least a season’s worth of MLS regular season games behind him, Garde’s record is the most impressive of all previous coaches, as you can see from the table below.

Table covers MLS Regular Season matches only. The YC column is total yellows issued, including double yellows in the same match, leading to a red card (see next column entitled, ‘2 YC RC’s’, as opposed to ‘St RC’s’, which refers to ‘straight red cards’). So the 108 total in the YC column for Klopas, is inclusive of 14 yellow cards that contributed towards 7 red card dismissals shown in next column under, ‘2 YC RC’s’.

In the 136 regular season matches under Klopas and Biello, the Impact received an astounding 25 dismissals, almost one every five matches! In contrast, before Maciel’s recent dismissal, the Impact had gone 29 matches without having a player dismissed.

In terms of yellow cards, a similar trend emerges. No coach had a worse disciplinary record than the pair, Schallibaum coming closest to Klopas, but Marsch, Garde, Cabrera and Henry all managed to keep discipline in check much better. Even now, despite the recent rash of reds, Henry’s team has incurred relatively few yellow cards.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Montreal Impact
Mauro Biello took the club further than any other coach past or present, by reaching an MLS Conference final, but on-field discipline was worst of all under his tenure, the longest of any Impact coach in MLS.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

In the years 2014-2017 under Klopas and Biello, there was Hassoun Camara yellow-carded 12 times in one season and Laurent Ciman 11 in another (6 of these were double yellows in matches, leading of course to 3 reds, so you might say 7 yellows and 3 reds).

Combative midfielder Marco Donadel received 13 yellows in 2015 season, an Impact record in one MLS regular season. He made only 24 starts and was introduced once from the bench.

So things have actually improved in respect of on-field discipline, the last three matches excepted of course.

Remi Garde perhaps didn’t get credit for much when his almost 2-year tenure with the Impact ended, but he can justifiably claim he cleaned things up!