Despite breaching LAFC’s defence three times on Saturday – an impressive feat on its own – the Montreal Impact were unable to claim the three points and succumbed by a score of 5-3 to the visitors.
Since taking over from Mauro Biello in the summer after Montreal’s worst ever season, Rémi Garde has attempted to rebuild the Impact with one simple goal in mind: Make them defensively compact and ultimately hard to beat. Injuries to key defenders and recurring disciplinary lapses, however, have made life in la belle province harder than expected, with the Impact winless in their last four. That being said, it’s not all bad for Garde’s men as signs of progression under the Frenchman have still been evident in the early goings of the season.
With new signings Jeisson Vargas and Alejandro Silva getting better week to week and still adapting their games to Major League Soccer, it’s only a matter of time before the Impact are firing on all cylinders again. On the bright side, talisman Ignacio Piatti has picked up where he left off last season, and has made his presence felt in the final third, averaging 5.5 successful dribbles per game. With the offense clicking, Garde’s next challenge will be settling on a preferred defensive partnership.
While the Impact’s back five seems solid on the surface, it has been everything but that thus far, conceding an MLS-high 17 goals to start the season. When you consider the Impact have lost Fisher, Diallo and Fanni to long-term injuries, their struggles at the back are normal.
In a post-game interview the former Lyon boss underlined his frustrations with the Impact’s defensive work. “We conceded too many goals, too many chances. We conceded four goals in the second half, but it could have been six or seven, I don’t know,” said Garde, to the Montreal Gazette.
Moving forward, Garde could look to integrate Rudy Camacho into the backline. Since joining from Waasland-Beveren, the Frenchman has only made two appearances but his veteran leadership will undoubtedly come in handy in the Impact’s next run of games. With free-scoring Atlanta United up next, Camacho could yet prove to be Garde’s ace in the deck. The 27-year-old will add a much-need aerial presence alongside Victor Cabrera at the back, and will help the Impact rectify their longstanding set-piece woes.
Midfielder and defensive lynchpin Samuel Piette will also prove crucial in Garde’s plans in alleviating some pressure off his backline. Sitting directly in front of the back five, the Canadian international has played every minute this season, amassing 3.1 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per game. While the Impact have been shaky, Piette has remained a constant and is arguably the first name on Garde’s team-sheet alongside Piatti. With the 23-year-old in his first full Major League Soccer season, he will only get better from here on out.
Despite their early season blues, the Impact will take solace in the fact that there is still a lot of soccer to be played. With games coming up against Atlanta United and the New England Revolution, Garde will be looking to take the opportunity to establish his best eleven once and for all and finally get the Impact playing like a well-oiled machine. The first seven games into the Garde era haven’t gone as expected but – make no mistake about it – with a bit of patience and belief, the results will soon follow. After all, it’s what the Frenchman has done throughout his entire career and ultimately what he was brought in to do in Montreal.