20 February 2012

Disney preview: Montreal Impact

The 2012 Disney Pro Soccer Classic starts on Friday, signaling the final countdown to the MLS season. I’ll be calling games at the tournament for the third straight year, teaming up with Simon Borg as part of MLSsoccer.com’s coverage of the group stage and then working the final day of the tournament on the ESPN3 broadcasts. As the week goes on, I’ll preview each of the eight teams set to participate in Orlando.

The tournament starts on Friday, and Simon and I will call the second game of the doubleheader, pitting Canadian rivals Montreal and Vancouver against each other in a preview of their March 10 opener. With that in mind, I’m starting the previews with MLS expansion club Montreal.

The basics
Team: Montreal Impact (MLS)
Head Coach: Jesse Marsch (1st season)
2011 results: 9-11-8, 7th place, NASL
Returning Starters: (from NASL) GK Evan Bush, DF Hassoun Camara, MF Sinisa Ubiparipovic

I’m looking forward to watching …
Davy Arnaud. The former Kansas City captain was traded to Montreal after the expansion draft. He had just two assists for Sporting last year while dealing with a variety of injuries, but if he can get back to full speed, he could be a key figure in Montreal’s offense. I’ll be interested to see if he plays up top or as an attacking midfielder; he’s plenty capable of doing both. Former Chivas standout Justin Braun figures to start in one forward spot, with former Sounders Mike Fucito and Miguel Montaño providing other options. Montreal’s leading scorer from last year, 38-year-old Cuban-Canadian Eduardo Sebrango, has been in camp trying to earn a roster spot.

Most important player …
Donovan Ricketts. Most expansion clubs, even one taking over an existing club, face a lot of shots, and I expect Montreal to do likewise. The 6-foot-4 Ricketts has a 0.92 GAA in three years in MLS but was traded by the LA Galaxy after missing large parts of 2011 due to injury. If he can stay healthy, he should be the No. 1 goalkeeper, and he will have a big part to play in keeping Montreal in some games.

Under the radar …
Montreal has signed more older, higher-priced players than some expansion teams do, but the Impact also have some very young talent under the age of 23: enigmatic midfielder Bryan Arguez, Scottish rookie Calum Mallace, Brazilian midfielder Felipe Martins, Salvadoran-American Gerson Mayen, Colombian forward Montaño, Gambian winger Sanna Nyassi, defender Zarek Valentin, and No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wenger. Valentin will miss the tournament while training with the U.S. U-23 national team, and Wenger’s availability depends on his class schedule at Duke, but this group leaves a lot of upside for Marsch’s men after some of the initial growing pains of any new club.

On trial …
While I have not seen an updated list of which trialists are still in Montreal camp, intriguing names who remain unsigned (to my knowledge) are:
  • Sebrango
  • Canadian midfielder Evan James, a Supplemental Draft pick out of Charlotte (Montreal needs a third Canadian, and he could be it)
  • former Impact captain and Montreal native Nevio Pizzolitto, a 35-year-old defender
  • 19-year-old forward Martin Galvan, a former Mexican U-17 international (EDIT: Galvan is no longer in camp with Montreal and is not expected to be in Orlando.)
  • former Italian international defender Matteo Ferrari, 32, who arrived in Impact camp last week after accidentally running into Impact sporting director Nick De Santis in Europe

  • Friday, February 24, 8 p.m. ET, Montreal vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
    (MLSsoccer.com – Yardley / Borg)
  • Sunday, February 26, 3 p.m. ET, Montreal vs. Sporting KC
    (MLSsoccer.com – Williams / Yadrich)
  • Wednesday, February 29, 8 p.m. ET, Montreal vs. Houston Dynamo
    (MLSsoccer.com – Yardley / Borg)
  • MLS Opener: Saturday, March 10, 6 p.m. ET, Montreal at Vancouver
    (BC Place)
  • MLS Home Opener: Saturday, March 17, 2 p.m. ET, Montreal vs. Chicago
    (Stade Olympique)
What are you watching for in the Impact's final preseason games? Have Jesse Marsch and co. signed enough talent to compete in their first season?

    1 comment:

    1. Pizzolitto was supposedly cut today and Martin Galvan was there for just a week.

      Conceningg the 3rd canadian Edddy sebrango also has a canadian passport