March to March 9: Scouting the Montreal Impact
Ahead of the third match of the Walt Disney World Resort Pro Soccer Classic tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 16) at 1p.m. ET (dcunited.com/live) against the Montreal Impact, we dig deep into the second-year MLS club.
New Kids on the Block
Last season marked the inaugural year in Major League Soccer for Montreal, who became the 19th franchise in league history and the 3rd located in Canada. But make no mistake; top-flight soccer is nothing new in Montreal, as the city has featured a North American Soccer League (NASL) team as early as 1971.
Montreal faced United on three different occasions in the 2012 season, with the clubs exchanging 3-0 victories and drawing once with a 1-1 score. The final match between the teams finished at 3-0 in favor of Montreal at Suputo Stadium on Aug. 12, 2012. The winning streak was short lived, however, and Montreal soon sputtered out of playoff contention, going winless in their last six matches and finishing 12-16-6 on the year.
The Montreal Impact has fared well at the Disney Pro Classic pre-season tournament thus far, defeating Sporting Kansas City 2-1 and posting four goals against NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies, with a final score of 4-1 on Wednesday. Montreal looks to be off to a fast start, and if these early results are any indicator, should be looking to improve in its sophomore season as the team looks to make its mark in MLS.
Making an ‘Impact’
The Montreal Impact may not have had a winning first season, but with some standouts from 2012, as well as new additions, the club should have plenty to build upon in 2013.
Montreal’s leading goal-scorer Patrice Bernier tallied nine goals in 2012, including two against the Black-and-Red in the three-goal route of United on Aug. 25, 2012. Bernier also finished with a team second-best eight assists on the year, nabbing one of them on the other goal in the three-goal match against United. Brazilian youngster Felipe Martins finished the season with 10 assists and 59 shots, leading the team in both categories, while also adding four goals. Attacking midfielder and Gambian International Sanna Nyassi led the team with shots on goal (31) and, subsequently, yellow cards (9). And Impact Designated Player and formidable forward Marco Di Vaio placed third in the team’s goals, shots, and shots on goal categories. Notably, in Montreal’s last four-goal thrashing of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, three of the four players mentioned above grabbed goals – Di Vaio (2), Martins (1), and Nyassi (1).
In its second year, the Impact technical staff has been hard at work in adding players that will look to improve the squad for 2013. International transfer Andrea Pisanu comes in on loan via Italian first division Bologna. Also, young Argentine forward Andrés Romero arrived in Montreal from Tombense Futebol Clube (Brazil). Add in the Impact’s 2013 MLS SuperDraft class – Blake Smith (New Mexico State), Brad Stuver (Cleveland State), Fernando Monge (UCLA) – and Montreal have a new fleet of talent at its disposal for the upcoming 2013 season.
Many members of the Black-and-Red had crossed paths with members of the Montreal Impact before suiting up in a D.C. United kit.
Montreal Impact’s standout striker Patrice Bernier and Black-and-Red captain Dwayne De Rosario featured in multiple Canada Men’s National Team fixtures together. Both men represented Canada in the 2005 and 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments. Defender Dejan Jakovic also represents Canada, and has made 14 total appearances for the country.
2011 Rookie of the Year finalist Perry Kitchen and United defender Chris Korb both shared a teammate in Montreal defender Zarek Valentin at the University of Akron. Korb and Valentin were teammates in 2009 and 2010. Starting in every game of the 2009 season, they led the top-ranked Zips to an undefeated 23-0-1 run to the NCAA Championship final, which they lost on penalty kicks against a second ranked University of Virginia Cavaliers. In the 2010 season, Kitchen, Korb and Valentin all played pivotal roles in the Zips’ 22-1-2 season in which they captured the NCAA Championship against Nick DeLeon’s University of Louisville. The match featured all four players for the full 90 minutes, but DeLeon saw his United compatriots and Valentin go on to clinch a 1-0 victory for Akron.
United defender Brandon McDonald and Impact midfielder Collen Warner are no strangers as they’ve seen plenty of each other in their college days. McDonald (University of San Francisco) and Warner (University of Portland) played against each other three times – once in 2006 and twice in 2007. McDonald’s San Francisco was 1-2 against Warner’s Portland.
Although no longer part of the Montreal technical staff for 2013, the Impact’s 2012 Head Coach Jesse Marsch began his MLS career with D.C. United, scoring four goals in 15 games in the 1996 and 1997 MLS championship years. Marsch would move to a newly introduced Chicago Fire in 1998, finding himself on the winning side of yet another MLS championship, his third in as many years. Current Impact Head Coach Marco Shallibaum replaced Marsch in January.