Soccer is a sport in which coaching and management count in a large and tangible way. Since early in the 2009 season when Marc Dos Santos took over the coaching duties of the Montreal Impact the team has been one of the most respected and successful in the USFL/NASL league. He has brought a system and a sense of commitment to the team that has resulted in consistency and results.
It also doesn’t hurt that the team has the enthusiastic commitment of the Saputo family behind them. Joey Saputo is the team president and is the team’s number one fan. Last season when the team was going through a tough spell he was very blunt about how disappointed he was with the play of the team even going so far as to call out certain players by name. His enthusiasm has translated to the team being provided with a fairly new and beautiful stadium, top notch practice facilities, as well as a top class administration that includes Sporting Director and ex-Impact player Nick DeSantis, another former Impact Mauro Biello as assistant coach, former Impact keeper Matt Jordan as Director of Soccer Operations, and former Impact Adam Braz as team manager.
Last season the Impact got to the league semi-finals before bowing to the Carolina RailHawks. They were eliminated by the slimmest of aggregate scores 2-1. While it was disappointing for the defending champions not to have made it to the finals it was still a good season all things considered.
As soon as the 2010 season came to a close the team’s administration began planning for the 2011 season. This will be the team’s last season in the NASL as they are slated to be moving up to the MSL for 2012. So while preparing for 2011 an eye was kept towards the move to the MSL.
Many new faces will be wearing the Impact blue this season. Gone are players like Adam Braz (retired), Patrick Leduc (retired), Matt Jordan (retired), Wesley Charles (contract not renewed), Eduardo Sebrango (contract not renewed), Filipe Soares (contract not renewed), Srdjan Djekanovic (contract not renewed), Tony Donatelli (contract not renewed), Stephen deRoux (contract not renewed), and Rocco Placentino (contract not renewed). This is quite a turn over as Jordan, Braz, Donatelli, and Leduc have been with the team for a long time.
Back with the team will be familiar faces like Ali Gerba, Simon Gatti, David Testo, Leonardo Di Lorenzo, team captain Nevio Pizzolitto, Philippe Billy, Antonio Ribeiro, and Reda Agourram. Late 2010 season additions like Anthony Le Gall, Pierre-Rudolph Mayard, Richard Pelletier, and Marco Terminesi are also back with the team. They will be rounded out with goalkeepers Bill Gaudette (formerly of the Puerto Rico Islanders) and Evan Bush (formerly of Baltimore), fullback Zurab Tsiskaridze (formerly of the Vancouver Whitecaps), midfielder Amir Lowery (formerly of the Carolina RailHawks), midfielder Luke Kreamalmeyer (formerly of St. Louis SC), fullback Kevin Hatchi (France), midfielder Idriss Ech Cherqui (France), and midfielder Hassoun Camara (France).
The 18th season for the Impact will start shortly with a game in Florida against FC Tampa Bay this Saturday, April 9th. Coach Dos Santos admits that it will be a tough game, but that he is looking forward to the season as his team had a good training camp where plenty of team chemistry was developed. Oddly enough the Impact has not won its season opener since the 2004 season going 0-2-4 over that period. Bill Gaudette is slated to be the starting keeper in Tampa while David Testo, Leonardo Di Lorenzo, Reda Agourram, and Hicham Aaboubou will all miss the game due to injury and Richard Pelletier will miss this as he is sitting out the first of a six game suspension. This is the first of four games the two teams will play this season with the next one being Montreal’s home opener on April 23rd.
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