It all started when we acquired the ‘center piece’ in coach Thierry Henry.
Totally unproven at a manager level, but he was a player who left opponents and fans with their ‘jaw’s hanging down to the floor day in and day out. So his name brings weight with it.
The coach has been focusing on rejuvinating the squad while also helping the owners create a new culture for the club.
The obvious intention, just like any team; win titles. Montreal also future plans in the works : attracting big names and talent from overseas.
After a late playoff push last season, the team has started to plug holes that were exposed in an underwhelming year.
Tous pour ganger!
Droit Devant. Always Forward.
Now we have a new name, brand, and crest – and that’s as far as I’ll indulge in the matter.
Welcome to a new era. With the recent additions, we just might have a very attacking and bright future.
Last year was the first season without our club legend Ignacio Piatti who previously scored 71 goals and had 38 assists over 6 years as an Impact. He was never really replaced.
Sure Bojan Krkić came in, and left just as fast but he wasn’t the same type of player nor did he play the same position, though just like Piatti, he was a dribbler.
Fifa-like 5 Star Skills + left foot
I am quite certain one of our new players from Argentina will easily pick up the flair void Bojan may have left.
Joaqin Torres is a 24 year old Right Winger, and is all about one on one pure skills!
He moves across the pitch with the ball glued to his feet with ease, constantly zig zagging through opponent’s midfielders and defenders.
I watched him score a classic ‘’Messi goal’’, running from the center of the field and dribbling his way past 4 players, only to find himself 1 on 1 with the Gk. He goes bottom left with a smooth light kick and it found itself in the back of the net, the EXACT play you see Barcelona’s number 10 do on SO MANY occasions.
Let’s be realistic here as well, the kid is NOT a Messi, but I assure you that he will be very amusing to watch. The winger scored 5 times and set up a further 2 goals last season with Volos Fc in the Greek Super League.
I am positive that Coach Henry will find a lot of use for this kind of speedy dynamic and dangerous player.
The new trickster is left footed, and can cross the ball very well – after a few step overs just to confuse opposing team’s defenders. Did I mention he also has outstanding dribbling skills!? – Lets just add it a second time.
The player comes in on loan for a year with an option to buy at the end of the season.
Hard as a rock leader of a defender
Maxi Urriti, a Center Forward who scored 5 goals for us last season was recently traded to the Houston Dynamo, and we received Slovenian international Aljaz ‘Kiki’ Struna in return.
This can turn out to be a very smart move for a team that allowed the 3rd most goals against, 43, in all of the MLS last year.
Struna brings in loads of experience from his days of playing in a mix of Italys top 2 leagues, Serie A and B, where the game is played with a Catenaccio mentality.
In other words this means an extremely tactical game plan that put’s A LOT of focus on defence, and playing the ball out from the back. The defenders are extremely organised in their positioning, and it is a reason why there have been so many legendary Italian center backs like Cannavaro, Maldini, and even Giorgio Chiellini who is a modern talent still with Juventus.
‘’Kiki’’ or Aljaz is a 6 ft 2 30 year old Center Back defender who is not afraid to play the pass. He is a loud player with leadership skills, and full of hard strong tackles. Superior in the air, he can clear the ball with his head from his own box, or can be a dangerous threat on the other side of the field from set pieces and corner kicks.
Our new defender will be a welcome addition to the squad and he admits he is pleased with the trade as Montreal is well known, and feels the mentality is also different here.
The city being one of the only ones to feel European in the Americas also attracted the player. Struna is aware of the history of Italian players that have passed through Saputo Stadium, most notably Alessandro Nesta who joined the Impact from Ac Milan in 2012.
I almost forgot to mention he started ALL of Slovenia’s 2018 World Cup games!
Goals, Goals and more Goals!
This new signing is a natural number 9, a big center forward from Norway, a star from Vikings: Bjorn Ironside the son of Ragnar Lothbrok.
Ok, no, that would be killer though.
Our new striker’s name is Bjorn Johnsen, he’s a right footed power forward who is very capable of scoring goals with his head. The 29 year old Norwegian has been capped internationally 16 times and has returned 5 goals and 1 assist.
One of the assets he possesses that we will really benefit from is his positioning, Bjorn has this ability to get into open spaces to receive that long pass or cross at the right time and then just fire send it home!
This is the kind of player that Henry can shape into REALLY benefiting from all the chances and crosses that our midfield and fullbacks will be creating this year, and at 29 on a 1 year deal with an option for a second, he may have a few more years left in him. Goals he surely will bring to our plate.
Can he score at least 15?
A Pharaoh in the Midfield
Meet Ahmed Hamdi, the second player to arrive on loan this campaign, who also has a buy option. He is also a player that I am almost as excited to see, as I am with Torres!
Hamdi is a classy box to box midfielder who is exceptional at receiving the ball from his defenders turning quickly and either slowing down the tempo of the game – then play a creative long ball, or dribble his way to the other team’s box before playing a quick penetrating pass to a forward.
The Egyptian can take free kicks from outside the box, and score them too. He plays similar to a Mezzala and doesn’t shy away from getting into dangerous areas, fully capable of finishing a chance or setting up a goal. Great passing skills and what appears to be his football IQ from thr few videos I managed to find.
I hope he can crack and then stay within the starting 11.
Cf Montréal’s sporting director had this to say about Hamdi:
“He’s a player with attacking qualities who can play as a box-to-box midfielder or higher up as an attacking midfielder. He’s very skilled technically and can provide that final, decisive pass. We hope he’ll confirm what we saw in him so we can keep him with us for several years.’’
I think they see him filling in as a CAM in the near future too, as do I.
I’ll also wish him a Happy Birthday, considering he turned 24 yesterday!
Let’s not forget the Draftees
We drafted a future starter at the 2020 MLS Super Draft, and we also received the rights to another one via a trade.
The final captain from the Montreal Impact era, Jukka Raitala was shipped off to Minnesota United in exchange to the exclusive rights to Jamaican / American Andrew Booth.
The player had 1 goal in 7 games this year with the Greenville Triumph, and can play as a defender or a holding midfielder. Last year at Florida International University, Booth had 5 goals and 5 assists in 18 games with the Panthers.
Cf Montréal used their draft pick to choose former Michigan State U Spartan’s Captain Giuseppe Barone, an attacking midfield. Montreal will have fire power in this young player who unfortunately missed most of 2019 through due to injury, and had last season canceled, but did manage to score 7 goals and 15 assists in the previous year.
The talented player will hope to learn from Thierry Henry, and adapt to the system while he goes through vigorous training to regain match fitness in preparation for this upcoming season.
The Future looks bright
Though not everyone is fond of the rebranding, I think if we look at the transactions the team has made during the offseason, we can see a team that has a vision. The vision being the future, which can be quite successful, given the modifications we have seen the board do within the squad.
I think Hamdi and Torres will quickly become favorites due to their pure raw skill and creativity, plus the future numbers they will put on the score sheet!
Johnsen can become a trusted center field who plays as a big strong body in the box, similar to Drogba’s game. He can create space for the quicker little guys, and also excels on being in the right place at the right time. I hope to see double digit goal returns from this investment, and I am sure the team is depending on it.
Struna’s leadership skills will help fill the void that trading your captain away leaves you with, though he probably won’t be given the armband in his first season, he will aid whoever is made captain. As I mentioned already, he will boost a defence that was lacking last season, and can help on the tactical plays as well.
We may have not seen or heard much about both Booth and Barone, they are both VERY promising players with MUCH upside. Don’t expect them to be much more than bit part players at first, but if all goes to plan, they will become quite the familiar faces for years to come.
The Other Side of The Pond: https://linktr.ee/TheOtherSideofThePond
Don’t forget to check out Hot Sauce Sports last Weekly Sauce episode where Terry Tam and Alex the Intern invited me to join them and talk Soccer!
Also while you’re at it, you don’t want to miss the new episode of NSFW which came out today, Peeze and Terry Tam were joined by Duke and talk Super Bowl, Parties and much more.