The Eh Game

Montreal Impact pushing early for MLS postseason spot

Eh Game

View photo

.

Montreal Impact moving forward.

The Impact, simply put, are making exactly that.

Now into their second season, most observers wouldn't have been surprised if the Montreal Impact were still finding their feet in Major League Soccer. However, Montreal’s activities in the off-season suggested that the franchise wanted nothing to do with a sophomore jinx and instead was focused on fast-tracking to a playoff appearance.

The team changed leadership, bringing in Swiss coach Marco Schallibaum and hiring veteran Italian defender Alessandro Nesta. Together, he and Marco Di Vaio provide experience for a fairly inexperienced franchise. He is also behind one of the best defenses in the league. The Impact have conceded only five goals in their first six matches and are off to a 4-1-1 start (the four wins exceeded the win total of their Canadian rivals, the 1-2-4 Toronto FC and 2-3-2 Vancouver Whitecaps).

Nesta is completely on board with the Impact's push for a postseason berth. He's hinted that he will probably retire at the end of the season.

“This is probably my last season, I want to be able to win more victories, my teammates very well,” he said. “I believe that we can achieve this goal.”

DI Vaio, however, doesn’t seem to share the same view. He told the Quebec talk show Tout le Monde en Parle:

“I don’t really know,” Di Vaio admitted. “My contract runs out in December, so we’ll see after that, but if I can keep on training every day and help the team, I’d like to carry on.”

Patrice Bernier has been the engine of Montreal’s midfield, and arguably their best performer this season.

“At this stage last year, I’d played the fourth game of the season against New York, and then I stopped playing for a while,” the 33-year-old recalled to the media last month. “Now, I’ve played the fourth game, and my play’s being better recognized.”

A big reason in his surge of form this season lies with the Impact’s formation. In a three-man midfield, the 33 year-old Bernier plays the anchorman role, a deep-lying playmaker that covers the defense while trying to play in the forwards as well. Sporting director Nick De Santis hailed Schillibaum’s decision to play Bernier in that role.

“First and foremost, that position could extend his career, and with his experience and savvy, he sees what’s going on in front of him even from further back,” De Santis said. “The defenders know that they can give him the ball at any time, and the players up top know how he anticipates the play and starts new moves right away.”

It’s still early on in the season, and things could change, as the game against Sporting KC suggested. But for now, Montreal still sits a point off the top of the Eastern Conference standings, and they fully deserve to be where they are.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Should Jacob Trouba be suspended for this Mark Stone hit? (Video)

      Should Jacob Trouba be suspended for this Mark Stone hit? (Video)

      Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators began the 2016-17 season recovering from a concussion. He’s gone on to be an integral part of their surprising surge in the Atlantic Division: 21 goals and 25 assists in 55 games, entering their game against the … More »

      Puck Daddy - 1 hour 36 minutes ago
    • Paul Millsap, the no-sizzle All-Star, wants to get weird for one day

      Paul Millsap, the no-sizzle All-Star, wants to get weird for one day

      Paul Millsap knows how to make an entrance. NEW ORLEANS — When the Eastern Conference All-Stars took the floor for Saturday’s practice session at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the first player introduced was Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks. Music … More »

      Ball Don't Lie - 5 hours ago
    • Watching batting practice may become more convenient for home fans

      Watching batting practice may become more convenient for home fans

      Here’s some potentially good news if you want to see the home team take batting practice. If you’re a fan that only attends a handful of MLB games each season, chances are catching batting practice is a high priority. According to Joel Sherman of … More »

      Big League Stew - 5 hours ago
    • Bryce Harper and Noah Syndergaard are building an old-school feud

      Bryce Harper and Noah Syndergaard are building an old-school feud

      Noah Syndergaard (left) and Bryce Harper are not on the best of terms? As if the escalating tensions at Yankees camp weren’t enough drama for the opening weekend of spring training, the rivalry between the Nationals and Mets — and specifically … More »

      Big League Stew - 8 hours ago
    • Bye-week curse has NHL at a loss

      Bye-week curse has NHL at a loss

      The NHL instituted bye-weeks this season as a kickback to the players, in exchange for their agreeing to skate their hung-over asses off in a 3-on-3 All-Star Game tournament format. But the byes are also for the sake of player safety in the regular … More »

      Puck Daddy - 10 hours ago