Saturday's match in Quebec will be the opener of Stade Saputo's MLS era. The Montreal Impact are in many ways similar to the Sounders, not just because of the players, but the number of connections they maintained to their USL & A-League past. They haven't been awful this year. The 3-7-3 record this year isn't in the horrid levels that most expansion teams experience. Still, things aren't stable. Jesse Marsch has used a variety of lineups and formations, guiding us through this both new and old team is Benzinho of Mount Royal Soccer.
SaH: Jesse Marsch seems to using a wide variety of formations and starting lineups. Is this due to health or just trying to figure out how everyone will work best?
MtRS: One thing for sure, Jesse Marsch has been playing with 4 defenders at the back so no Italy circa 2012 3-man defense. Since the beginning, the rookie head coach has said the right things, the right way and always reinforced the point that all roster players can step up anytime to help out the team. It might have sounded as a cliche at the beginning but the squad is proving to be deeper, except in attack. The fact of not having a go-to striker to rely on to score goals has created some shuffling in the offensive sector.Bernardo Corradi is the point man but has been associated with Sanna Nyassi, Miguel Montano,and Davy Arnaud. At this point, Davy Arnaud has been the best match until now but theses different choices have made the configuration of the team change especially seeing switches in the wide midfield area with Justin Mapp, Lamar Neagle, Sanna Nyassi and Sinisa Ubiparipovic.
The defense has seen its share of injuries but Nelson Rivas' return put Tyson Wahl to his preferred left back position (not some of the fans preferred position for him to be honest). The right back position has been mostly shared between Zarek Valentin, Jeb Brovsky and Hassoun Camara.
At the end, Jesse Marsch seems to have found another combination but this time in a usually untouched area: the center midfield. Felipe Martins has been the constant and either played with Patrice Bernier or Collen Warner. Just recently, all 3 together has brought something new to the team defensively and offensively and this combination might stick for a while.
Jesse Marsch is looking for the right combination while reacting and adapting to injuries but has a specific idea in his head in what roles need to be filled with the right work ethic and attitude. Yet again, this description might totally change as soon as Marco Di Vaio plays with the team.
SaH: Most expected Montreal to make stronger efforts to link to their French community, instead it seems to be a very Italian heavy scouting department. Why?
MtRS: Actually, there is nothing French or at least French Quebecois to the Montreal Impact. Joey Saputo is a proud Canadian, Quebecer and Montrealer but has an obvious heavy Italian influence. Ex-player and current Sporting Director Nick De Santis is also a Canadian-Italian Montrealer and both owner and director have close ties to the soccer world in Italy. With over 150,000 Montrealers of ‘' Italian ‘' heritage, the passion for soccer is not something new to this community and having an ‘' Italian ‘' kinda makes sense.
SaH: Which of the former Sounders is having the greatest impact on the season so far?
MtRS: Good question. I hesitate between Lamar Neagle and Sanna Nyassi. After a late and slow start due to injuries, Lamar Neagle has really done well for himself switching between the right and left side of the midfield.
On the other hand, Sanna Nyassi has been a hard working player with sometimes too much aggressivity. His final position has been hard to figure out as he has played 2nd striker, wide midfielder and winger. He played his best game against the Colorado Rapids, a game in which he played perfectly his role as a winger, right midfielder as he used his speed to make a few dangerous runs on the right and nice crosses.
I will have to call for a tie between 2 shy ex-sounders: Lamar Neagle and Sanna Nyassi.
Projected lineup 4-5-1: Evan Bush - Valentin, Rivas, Ferrari, Wahl - Warner , Bernier , Felipe, Arnaud, Nyassi - Corradi
will be over at Mount Royal Soccer in the AM is over at Mt Royal Soccer the questions there concerns the midfields, David Estrada's absence and Sigi's system.