Remi Garde came up short of the playoffs in his first season in charge, but a late-year surge could spark a better run in 2019
Last season will not be looked back on fondly by the Montreal Impact, who buried themselves behind an early-season run that saw them drop 11 of their first 15 matches under new manager Remi Garde, only to come up four points shy of a playoff spot in the loaded Eastern Conference.
Heading into last season the change of manager and a roster in flux left plenty of questions to be answered, and the slow start was not exactly stunning. The late-season turnaround was a different matter, with the Impact clawing their way back into contention despite having the fourth-worst scoring record in the league.
The 2019 season should be much more stable. Garde heads into his second year in charge with a team that will look very similar to the one he put on the field to finish out 2018, though a proven MLS goal-scorer has been added along with a few other new pieces as the Canadian club looks to find its way back to the postseason for the first time since 2016.
2018 finish: Seventh in the Eastern Conference (14-4-16), missed the playoffs
The early season-struggles were more than the Impact could overcome, falling just short of a playoff spot in the East.
Alejandro Silva ‘s transfer to Olimpia in Paraguay is the headline-grabber of the departures for the Impact, with the club landing a reported $4 million transfer fee for the 29-year-old, but plenty of others left the club as well.
Matteo Mancosu was allowed to walk as his contract ran out, as was Quincy Amarikwa . Jeisson Vargas was sent out on loan while Maxime Crepeau and Chris Duvall were both traded within MLS. But aside from Silva, finding replacements, at least in terms of production, shouldn’t prove overly challenging.
Looking to improve one of the worst attacks in the league in 2018, the Impact landed Maxi Urruti in a trade with FC Dallas. While the forward hasn’t exactly filled up the stat sheet in MLS, he has been a fixture for a solid FCD team over the last three seasons.
Orji Okwonkwo feels like more of a flier with big upside, but the Impact managed to bring the 21-year-old in on loan from Bologna. Journeyman French forward Harry Novillo was also signed by the club in the offseason.
The Impact also landed a young player on loan to help out the defense, with Canadian youngster Zachary Brault-Guillard brought in from Lyon.
Goalkeepers: Jason Beaulieu, Evan Bush, Clement Diop, James Pantemis
Defenders: Zachary Brault-Guillard, Víctor Cabrera, Rudy Camacho, Zakaria Diallo, Daniel Kinumbe, Daniel Lovitz, Thomas Meilleur-Giguère, Jukka Raitala, Bacary Sagna
Midfielders: Micheal Azira, Clement Bayiha, Mathieu Choiniere, Harry Novillo, Ignacio Piatti, Samuel Piette, Shamit Shome, Saphir Taïder
Forwards: Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Orji Okwonkwo, Maximiliano Urruti
There shouldn’t be many true position battles with the Impact heading into the season. Adding Urruti to the front line makes him almost a lock to step into the starting lineup, though how and where Okwonkwo is used remains to be seen.
Otherwise, expect to see a very similar side to the one that was regularly as the club closed out the 2018 regular season on a good run.
The Impact do not have any national television matches scheduled in the United States.