MLS

Montreal Impact

Conference: EasternHead Coach: Marco Schallibaum
2012: 12-16-6 (7th in East)
Home Record10-4-3
Away Record2-12-3
Goals For45 (9th)
Goals Against51 (16th)

Get primed for the 2013 MLS season with a look at what might lie ahead for the Montreal Impact. TSN Radio 690's Noel Butler takes you through the off-season remodeling of the Impact and what impact it could have on the team's on-field performance. Keep reading for players to watch, a projected starting line-up and Butler's prediction for how the Impact will finish this season.

Season Outlook

Meet the New Boss

Schallibaum's presence could make the greatest impact between the 2012 and 2013 squads.

The Impact's inaugural MLS season provided some glorious memories and a possibility of the playoffs until deep in the season. However, these sentiments alone were not enough to keep Jesse Marsch at the helm, the first year coach leaving the club mere days before they were to depart for Italy on their post season tour.

In some regard November's tour was an audition, the unofficial kick off for this pre-season.

Two people who certainly made the most of their opportunities in Italy were trialist Andrea Pisanu and interim head coach Mauro Biello - now reinstalled as an assistant coach in a far more prominent role.

For all the player moves made by the Impact since they trudged off the pitch defeated at home in the final match of the season they pale in significance when set against the hiring of head coach Marco Schallibaum.

The multilingual Swiss national immediately set about his considerable task upon his arrival into Montreal. His focus in the pre-season has been to instill in his playing squad greater fitness levels to counter the demands of a gruelling schedule - alongside this a vitally essential bonding culture away from the pitch.

WHO'S IN / WHO'S OUT
Additions: M Andrea Pisanu (Loan), F Andres Romero (Loan).
Subtractions: D Josh Gardner (Trade - Sporting KC), M Evan James (Option declined), M Lamar Neagle (Trade - Seattle), GK Greg Sutton (Retired), D Shavar Thomas (Option declined).
Superdraft: M Blake Smith (1-8), M Fernando Monge (1-18).

Looking Ahead

The ability to rise above adversity has been a hallmark of the Montreal Impact since the football club was formed in 1993.

Only three other league clubs conceded more goals last season. More alarming was the repetitive nature of conceding crucial markers late on that ultimately cost them a playoff spot. To counter this, Schallibaum's approach will go a long way ensuring the club maintains a more cohesive shape as tight games get into the decisive late periods. Alessandro Nesta has an essential role to play in implementing this structure through the entire 90 minutes.

On the attacking side of the equation last season's unacceptably poor distribution to Di Vaio needs vast improvements. The Roman does a phenomenal amount of work away from the ball and possesses an innate ability to find himself in acres of space.

Are you listening Impact wing backs? Good things will only occur for the Impact if his team mates feed their DP.

The only value that should be read into the Impact winning the Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic is the greater sense of psychological well-being that emanates from positive outcomes.

A vintage club by North American standards - the real measure of truly celebrating their 20th season is with a playoff position this season. Then anything can happen.

Projected Sarting XI

FORWARD

Marco Di Vaio Andrea Pisanu
Striker Attacking Midfield

MIDFIELD

Davy Arnaud Patrice Bernier Collen Warner Felipe Martins
Left Midfield Centre Midfield Centre Midfield Right Midfield

DEFENCE

Dennis Iapichino Alessandro Nesta Matteo Ferrari Zarek Valentin
Left Back Centre Half Centre Half Right Back

GOALKEEPER

Troy Perkins

Home and Away

One Canadian and One foreign-born player for Impact fans to keep an eye on in the 2013 season.

Patrice Bernier - Midfield

Patrice Bernier was not only the Impact's MVP but won various league accolades. Strong recognition of a player at the top of his MLS craft through 2012. Nothing quite like sleeping in your bed back home for the Brossard native. With the Canadian MNT going in a different direction with younger and less experienced players, the 33-year old Bernier will have a far less a demanding 2013 schedule. Don't expect him to top the Impact scoring charts again. Like a fine wine, the distinct possibility of a vintage season awaits.

Andrea Pisanu - Attacking Midfield

The Cagliarian announced his intentions after joining the club for a trial during last fall's Italian tour. His stand out performance in the 1-0 victory over Fiorentina certainly convinced the Impact's hierarchy. Clever of both foot and mind, Pisanu is the archetypal player the club were in need of last season. Signed on loan from Bologna on Jan. 3 he has rarely missed a beat this pre-season. His ball playing abilities coaxing the very best out of DiVaio could define the Impact's season.

The Road Ahead

The Impact open the season with a visit to the Northwest.

Mar. 2 - 10pm et Impact @ Sounders
Key Match-ups
Mar. 16 vs TOR 3pm et
Mar. 23 vs NY 4:30pm et
Apr. 6 @ LA 10:30pm et
Sep. 21 vs VAN 2pm et

Bold Prediction

Noel Butler has predicted a final record of 15-11-8 for the Impact in 2013.



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