Matteo Mancosu

Montreal Impact 2018 Season Preview by Aaron Nielsen

After a poor 2017 season, Montreal has added both youth and talent to their roster. Unfortunately, it has been matched by an even greater exodus of talent. The Impact will certainly look different in 2018, but they probably won't look any better.

2017 in Review

A year ago in my preview I called Montreal the most under-the-radar club in MLS. Going into 2018 this is even more true, partly because of the disappointing season for the Impact in 2017. They missed the playoffs and finished ninth in the East, which encouraged hands-on owner Joey Saputo to start a rebuild. That process began with the firing of manager Mauro Biello at the end of the 2017 season.

Despite not making the playoffs in 2017, ASA's expected goals model suggests Montreal was quite lucky to finish the season with only a -5 goal differential, as our xGD had them closer to -14, tied for third worst in the league. A major part of this xG discrepancy was because of the 17 goals scored by Montreal's best player, Ignacio Piatti, which was 7.65 more than his expected goals. That was the biggest difference for any player in 2017, a stat that becomes even more worrying when you account for the fact that Piatti was also one the of highest goalscorers in terms of unassisted goals (33.8% of his shots were unassisted). If Montreal wishes to compete in 2018 they need Piatti to continue to generate goals for himself at an elite level.

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Montreal Impact 2017 Season Preview by Aaron Nielsen

Montreal is maybe the most under-the-radar club in MLS, highlighted by amount of times (or lackthereof) they are included in national broadcast games. Even if you attend games in Montreal the atmosphere is more like a lower league game in Europe than traditionally the experience of MLS. These aren't insults - they've been an advantage for the Impact as the environment has allowed them to recruit both senior and youth players to their club that other MLS clubs would struggle lure.

2016 would generally be regarded as a success for the Impact, although their final game in Toronto was a huge disappointment, as they were up two goals and held the away goals tie-breaker, only to collapse in Toronto and miss out on the MLS Cup Final. Montreal's older legs and defense capitulated, allowing Toronto to score five goals and ending the Montreal's season. With limited moves in the off-season these issues are still concerns for Montreal going into the 2017 season as well.

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