The 2016 Montreal Impact will be eager to discover whether they can sustain the late season form that propelled them into their second playoff appearance in MLS. There’s hope in the rumor-defying return of Didier Drogba, who carried the team to a 7-1-1 record in his nine starts (scoring 11 goals) to close 2015. Nevertheless, five of those wins came at home, and three came against Colorado and Chicago. Mauro Biello imposed relatively few changes to the roster in his first offseason as head coach, likely indicating some confidence that the changes made last fall are sustainable.
2015 in review
ASA’s 2015 season preview of the Impact projected a position roughly between the cellar and the last playoff seeds – a fair summation of the team’s performance before Biello took over at the end of August. A defensive overhaul cut 14 goals off 2014’s abysmal total of 58 – third worst in the league – with new arrivals taking charge of the defensive midfield and all four positions along the back line. Laurent Ciman (CB), Marco Donadel (DM), and Ambroise Oyongo (RB) arrived perhaps with the greatest fanfare. 23 year-old Angentinian centerback Victor Cabrera, on loan from River Plate, seized the permanent starting role alongside Ciman in late June, and the Impact allowed only 18 goals in his 16 starts from that point.
Before Drogba’s arrival, Montreal’s offense was susceptible to stagnation, overly reliant on the individual skill of Ignacio Piatti in the attacking midfield. Neither Dominic Oduro (poor in distribution) nor Jack McInerney (terrible at everything else) was able to present a consistent threat from striker. Oyongo produced little to show for his promise as an attacking fullback. Dilly Duka and Andres Romero provided only modest support from the attacking midfield. Despite the defensive improvement, the Impact remained at a negative GD before the late season surge.
A look at the goalkeeper and defense after the jump.Read More