To get everyone ready for Saturday’s match against the Montreal Impact, we spoke to Emily Santella of Mount Royal Soccer to get her take on their rough start to the season, Remi Garde, and the Fernando Torres rumors.
DSS: Montreal collapsed last week against LAFC, losing 5-3 after leading 3-1. What can you contribute the Impact’s latest loss and their overall struggles to?
MRS: I won’t lie, the Impact have struggled in their past three games and it was hard to watch. Two of those games, they went down to ten men early and while it would be easy to use that as an excuse, the issue is somewhat larger than that. At the start of the season, it was made very clear that the club was in the process of restructuring from roster to coaching staff, and the search for their identity has unfortunately shown on the pitch. Since the beginning of the season, the team has pulled off some nice performances; predominately speaking of the match againstToronto or the first half against LAFC and the Red Bulls. These stints in quality are the major issue though because they are just that, stints.
Another issue that is a major factor in their collapse last week and recent struggles is the lack of quality in the back line. After trading Laurent Ciman, the Impact acquired center back Zakaria Diallo, but he was injured in the first week of the regular season. The setback did not last long as they picked up Rod Fanni to solidify and provide his veteran experience on the pitch. He was injured in the match against the Red Bulls and his absence in a game and a half showed way too much! Diallo will likely be back in the lineup on Saturday, but the constant shuffle in the Impact defense has definitely been a factor in their struggles thus far.
DSS: Results aside, how do you think Remi Garde has done when it comes to implementing his coaching philosophy with his new team?
MRS: Remi Garde is an extremely talented coach, but he still seems to be getting accustomed to the league and his players. His playing style preference is for his players to keep possession and apply pressure when they don’t have the ball. There are moments that this game plan was executed well by the players and showed a lot of promise. Unfortunately, going down to ten men in two of their last three matches, and missing the strike force and leader Ignacio Piatti in the other, exposed issues for Remi Garde.
His team seems to lack answers when faced with adversity, although this lack of response does also rest partly on the shoulders of the players and the lack of depth on the bench. I do think it is early to judge how much of an influence he can have on the club, but management has put all their trust in him. Given the evident rebuild that the Impact is going through, I would prefer giving him the time to establish his philosophy more concretely and also get all the players he wants to fulfill his vision for the team.
DSS: What’s the latest on the Fernando Torres to Montreal rumors?
MRS: Since the beginning of the season, there have been so many rumors surrounding players the Impact have been talking to or are interested in that it has become hard to keep track of. The Torres rumor picked up a lot last week, especially when it was reported that Nick DeSantis, who takes part in most of the scouting for the club, was in Spain.
While I think a striker like Torres could give a few good years to any team in the MLS, it is still a questionable move. The Impact have a few issues to resolve, and given that they are rebuilding, I am not sure if spending money to go get a designated player who is closer to the end of his career than the beginning is the best option for the club right now. With the position they are in, they have the opportunity to go get a young guy and build around the player, but then the question that always comes back is “Who?”.