The Montreal Impact were a mixed bag in 2016. They showed promise all season, but struggled to put it all together until the very end. A fifth place Eastern Conference finish was not promising, but a road win against DC sparked the playoffs. A series win against conference leader New York Red Bulls, set up a derby showdown with TFC for a spot in MLS Cup. Montreal would wind up losing in extra time of leg two in what has to be one of the most exciting playoff series in MLS history.
Montreal’s most notable offseason move is the re-signing of forward Dominic Oduro. Oduro, who was eligible for free agency, was a crucial piece of the 2016 roster. Ensuring he stayed was a top priority.
Several young talents will not be returning however. Lucas Ontivero, Kyle Bekker, and Harry Shipp have all moved on. Didier Drogba will also not be returning in 2017. After some late season dramatics, this is arguably the best move for both parties.
The biggest addition in 2017 is right Back Chris Duvall. Montreal traded Johan Venegas to Minnesota in return for the former Red Bull. Duvall will be fighting with Hassoun Camara for the starting role.
Duvall also fills a needed role as Ambroise Oyongo‘s backup, but recent rumors indicate several European clubs are interested in the Cameroonian. If Oyongo does move overseas, Duvall is the likely starter.
Montreal is the best counter attacking team in MLS at this time. The speed of Oduro and the vision and playmaking of Ignacio Piatti in transition make defending the Impact a tall order. The emergence of Matteo Mancosu late in the year really solidifies this team’s status.
Montreal isn’t afraid of playing physical. Their midfielders are known for making rough challenges as they attempt to shield a top class MLS defense.
Expect Andres Romero to work his way back into the fold sooner rather than later. After missing all of 2016 with an ACL injury, he will be ready to go in 2017. Romero picked up an injury in 2015 after being a major contributor throughout the year. His absence could be felt during the middle stretch of the 2016 when the team was struggling to find consistency in the midfield.
Expected Montreal Line-Up
Montreal played primarily a 4-3-3 late in 2016 and it will likely carry over. There is a chance that the team lines up in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-5-1 during any given week. Piatti is more suited to a centralized role, but the formation and squad see him playing wider out left on a regular basis.
The Montreal Impact should challenge to be the best team in the Eastern Conference. If their end of season form returns, there is no doubt that they can win the Eastern Conference. MLS seasons are always hotly contested and no team has a clear edge. With both New York teams and Toronto FC, Montreal will have their work cut out for them.