BENZAZA: Struggle for consistency
(CJAD Impact blogger Sofiane Benzaza is back with his take on the Crunch Time for the Impact. Connect with Sofiance @MtRoyalSoccer and @SoccerSansF.)
As the Eastern Conference leaders with 45 points, the Montreal Impact is back on top under its own terms. With 3 wins and 1 draw in its last 4 games, Montreal has rekindled with a positive winning momentum. A 4-2 win over the New England Revolution was a statement about the team’s character; a C-word used a lot to describe the club’s early success in 2013.
Dubbed as the most successful Canadian soccer franchise in MLS history, numbers do not lie for the Montreal Impact. I do find the title a bit exaggerated but once again, the numbers tell the tale. It does say more about the Vancouver Whitecaps being a young MLS franchise and actually doing pretty well.
Even more, Toronto FC has been a sinkhole that cannot be matched by any of our beloved sinkholes in the City of Montreal. TFC is worse than the corner of Guy and Ste-Catherine.
The Impact vision is paying early dividends, symbolized by an attractive brand of soccer. A technical and tactical savvy team has been fielded by Marco Schallibaum and built by Nick De Santis. The whole is encompassed in a winning mentality that only President and Owner Joey Saputo could match.
Crunch time starts now and it is imperative for Montreal to find its final groove while handling squad rotation and the CONCACAF Champions League. With 2 games in hand, the Impact knows that winning is the only remedy to any ailments.
Yet, nothing is perfect and the Impact knows that it’s not close to becoming a Sporting Kansas City or a Real Salt Lake. Actually, I am not even sure if Montreal will ever follow that model. Only time will tell as Nick De Santis continues to add building blocks.
In the immediate future, Montreal has 8 games left to its MLS season. You could even say 10 games with 2 games in hand. But a MLS/CCL schedule is never free of challenges, including games at San Jose on Sept. 17th and at Stade Saputo against C.D. Heredia on Sept.24th.
Tactical changes will be expected during the month of September. It has already started with the 3-man midfield to compensate Hernan Bernardello’s absence. Favorite #IMFC scapegoat Davy Arnaud should see more playing time.
Schallibaum will need to find the delicate balance not to offset Felipe's great form while making sure that Patrice Bernier continues to be the general in the midfield.
With the uncertainty that Marco Di Vaio would extend his stay beyond 2013, why not finish the season with a bang and start the quest for the Cup? That would add moral weight to his future.
Stay consistent, hammer down your identity and ensure a playoff spot as fast as possible and it starts against the Columbus Crew, at Stade Saputo this weekend.
LISTEN LIVE: Saturday 1:45PM with Grant Needham, CTV's Brian Wilde and the CJAD "Soccer Gang of 4" at Halftime with Sofiane Benzaza and CTV's Andre' Corbeil.