Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the 2019 MLS regular season ended, you are likely aware of the coaching announcement heard ’round the world. On November 14, 2019, the Impact announced Thierry Henry as head coach for the 2020 season. The French legend, who has won nearly every trophy a player could win, is a fledgling coach after serving time with Arsenal’s academy, the Belgian national team, and a short-lived stint at AS Monaco. Henry was a household name as a player and he now looks to become an equally successful coach.

However, Henry has inherited a somewhat problematic Impact squad. At the forefront of many minds, Designated Player Ignacio Piatti spent more of the 2019 season injured than on the field — and he is now 34 years old. After a mysterious disappearance from the post-season press conference, Piatti’s answer that he “forgot” to show up was poorly received and leaves many doubts as to where his head and his heart are now. His family has returned to Argentina and, judging from the comments of upper management, the feeling is he will likely return home sooner rather than later.

In addition, the previous lack of proper recruitment and managerial structure has once again left the Impact hamstrung, unable to add any signings of note as they are tight against the salary cap. Many high-cost salaries were seemingly indiscriminately doled out to players whose performances did not merit their pay grade. As a result, it appears that the squad who will travel to San Jose, Costa Rica, to take on Saprissa in the Impact’s first Champions’ League match since 2015 will likely be largely unchanged from the squad which failed to make the playoffs in 2019.

That isn’t to say there haven’t been any additions to the team: Defensive player Joel Waterman arrived in Montréal as the first Canadian Premier League player to be transferred to an MLS team. After a tumultuous season in Texas, winger/forward Romell Quioto was traded from the Houston Dynamo, in exchange for Impact’s central defender Victor Cabrera. Homegrown player Jean-Yves Ballou Tabla has returned following a transfer to FC Barcelona B, and a largely underwhelming loan in Montréal in the second half of last season.

Including the players who disappointed in the Bleu-Blanc-Noir last season, the roster appears to consist primarily of players for whom there are great expectations — There’s a lot for them to prove to demonstrate they belong in MLS 3.0.

For the eternally vocal Impact supporters, it’s hard not to feel disappointed as a slew of other MLS teams have broken their own transfer fee records with young and exciting talent.

The message from the organization seems to be primarily, “Trust the process.” Last season’s big arrival, president Kevin Gilmore, has worked to incorporate a proper sporting structure for the first time in Impact history. Belgian Olivier Renard is now sporting director. He is known for his ability to work on a “buy low, sell high” philosophy — finding young players with a lot of potential, and after they develop with his teams, selling those players for a higher fee than was initially paid to acquire them.

The Impact’s links to Bologna mean that Walter Sabatini occupies an oversight role in scouting for both teams, although the Impact finally have their own dedicated scouts. It’s actually a lot to be excited about after years without that defined structure and hierarchy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear supporters will be able to appreciate the improvements to recruitment until the aforementioned heavy contracts are off the team’s books.

Looking ahead, preseason began on Tuesday, January 14 and the team is now in Orlando engaging in the usual team-building and tactical exercises. Just over four weeks lies between them and their first competitive match of the season. With a manager as famous as Henry, more eyes than ever will be on the Impact. Let’s hope the Bleu-Blanc-Noir can make good use of the spotlight.

Featured image: @ImpactMontreal

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

Check us out on Twitter: @SwitchThePitch1 and Instagram: @SwitchThePitch1

2 thoughts on “For the second offseason running, Montréal Impact's biggest signing isn't a player”
  1. It still feels like a dream. Thierry Henry is coaching my team! It makes me feel nervous and excited at the same time. I am holding my breath that my players are up to the challenge and even more I hope they are embracing the opportunity to learn from Monsieur Henry.
    Ignacio Piatti is the most exciting player I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Fingers crossed the chance to work with Thierry Henry will entice him to recommit himself to the Impact. Allez, Allez, Allez!

Comments are closed.