As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Montreal Impact will be hoping to achieve this season.
There is a genuine sense of excitement surrounding Montreal Impact ahead of the 2016 season, with plenty to build on after a great end to the last campaign. The Impact recorded their highest points total (51) since joining MLS in 2012 and reached the Conference Semifinals of the MLS Playoffs. They will be disappointed not to have gone all the way to MLS Cup but the team now have a real chance with Didier Drogba ready to start his first full MLS campaign. Finishing as high as third again will be a tough ask but Mauro Biello will feel he has a squad capable of doing just that as he prepares for his first full season in charge.
Last season’s finish:
Eastern Conference – Position: 3rd – P34 – W15 – D6 – L13Embed from Getty Images
What needs to change this year?
There is nothing substantial the Impact will need to change this year. They ended the 2015 regular season with six wins from their last eight and boasted the best form in MLS come the final day. They will look to start better this time around, after failing to win in their first five games last term. One thing that they must be wary of is over-relying on Didier Drogba. As good as the Ivorian was, Montreal must ensure they can cope without the striker in case of injury or a midseason departure.
Key changes to squad:
Ins: Kyle Fisher – Defender, Lucas Ontivero – Midfielder & Harry Shipp – Midfielder.
Outs: Justin Mapp – Midfielder, Dilly Duka – Midfielder, Kenny Cooper – Forward, Nigel Reo-Coker – Midfielder & Eric Miller – Defender.
Didier Drogba – Forward – Impossible to mention anyone other than Drogba as Montreal’s key man. The former Chelsea striker netted 11 goals in 11 regular season games after joining the club and also bagged a playoff goal as he quickly proved himself to be one of the most lethal strikers in Major League Soccer. He will turn 38 just after the season starts but looks set for a big season in what could be his last.Embed from Getty Images
One to Watch:
Lucas Ontivero – Midfielder – Montreal haven’t made many preseason signings but Lucas Ontivero is an eye-catching acquisition. The 21-year-old Argentine winger joins on loan for the season from Turkish side Galatasaray. He spent time with the likes of Real Madrid, Tottenham and AC Milan as a youngster and will hope to take MLS by storm in 2016.
Eastern Conference – 5th – While there is a real air of expectancy around Montreal for 2016, the worrying over-reliance on Didier Drogba means that it’s difficult to see them transferring their end-of-season form from last year into the whole of the 2016 campaign. They should still comfortably make the playoffs once again but finishing as high as they did last season will be a tough task. Don’t rule out a deep playoff charge, though.
What are you expecting from Montreal Impact in 2016?