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Signal Intel: Weakened Impact expect to stick to countering ways

Absence of Piatti, Romero loom large creatively, but Montreal difficult to play against as always

Thank goodness Nacho Piatti ain’t playin’. I can watch him tear the whole rest of the league up, thank you very much - I don’t need to see it against the Fire.
What do we say to Ignacio Piatti? “NOT TODAY, Ignacio Piatti!”
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

We asked John Richan of Mount Royal Soccer to give us some insight into today’s opponent. My answers to John’s questions about the Fire can be found here.

Hot Time: We are now given to understand that Ignacio Piatti and Laurent Ciman are unlikely to play against Chicago. How does the loss of your primary offensive threat and your undoubted defensive leader change Montreal's shape and the way they wish to play?

Mt. Royal Soccer: There is no doubt with these two players out of the lineup things are going to be very difficult for Montreal this weekend. Having said that I think Head Coach Mauro Biello will stick with a similar approach and shape even without Piatti and Ciman. Since taking over as Head Coach Biello has regularly implemented a counter attacking approach on the road and I don't see this game being any different. With some of the injuries some younger faces should slot in but I imagine the overall strategy will not change much.

HT: Montreal basically stayed pat this offseason while the rest of the Eastern Conference went for makeovers. How has this played around the city? Is there an expectation that - absent a truly scorching start to this season - the summer transfer window had better be more active, or is the fanbase content with the roster?

MRS: This is a good question and I think opinions are all over the map on this one. Personally, the lack of off season movement was very disappointing. I think if you take out the strong playoff run from 2016 out of the equation, this Impact team was not great last year, however I think many people forget that. This combined with almost every Eastern Conference team improving I believe it is going to be a real challenge for Montreal to qualify for the playoffs. Having said this I am very excited to see future midfielder Blerim Dzemaili join this team at some point in the next few months. The Swiss midfielder is having a very good campaign with Bologna in the Serie A right now - and some could say he has been their best player in 2016-2017.

HT: There's a decent group of young Quebecois U23 players on the Impact roster - Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Maxime Crépeau, Louis Béland-Goyette, David Choinière, Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla, with Albertan Shamit Shome thrown in for good measure. Should we expect any of them to feature this season? Does Mauro Biello believe in developing players, or does he want to purchase finished products?

MRS: With the closing of FC Montreal in the USL at the end of last season it forced the Impact management to look at who was worth signing to MLS contracts and who could be let go. The list you provided were players that Montreal wanted to at least hold on to and see if they could break into the eighteen. Club Owner Joey Saputo has invested greatly into developing the Montreal Impact Academy and I think this season could be the first where we start to see some dividends. Of the list you provided Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla has the most promise (and will start this weekend). Tabla was actively being scouted by a few clubs in Europe last season at 17 years old. The other player that sticks out to me is Maxime Crépeau. Maxime is a very promising young keeper that is itching to see some playing time in the near future.

Lineup prediction (4-2-3-1): Bush; Oyongo, Camara, Cabrerra, Duvall; Mallace, Bernardello; Arregui, Ballou, Oduro; Mancosu.

Out of the lineup due to injury: Ciman, Piatti, Romero