Impact hope for some production from front line duo

Montreal Impact striker Sanna Nyassi

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Montreal Impact

MONTREAL – You can’t win if you don’t score. And through two games, the expansion Montreal Impact have one goal from the unlikely source, midfielder and captain Davy Arnaud. The question remains where the rest of their goals will come from.

Impact head coach Jesse Marsch has started the same striking partnership in both games so far, with Sanna Nyassi (above) playing off Justin Braun. Unfortunately for the Montreal boss, neither has been able to open their account so far this season.

“The challenge of any new team is in the attacking third, where it’s hard to score goals,” Marsch told reporters following this past Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire. “If goals were easy to score, everyone would play forward.

“We’re trying to move along our ideas and our understanding of what we want plays to look like in the final third. For the most part, I thought we were fairly threatening, and I don’t think the Chicago bench was ever sitting down comfortably.”

Chances did indeed come Braun and Nyassi’s way. Both players tested Fire ‘keeper Paolo Tornaghi four times, but the ball did not find the net.

“It was a little disappointing,” Braun told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday. “I would have liked to have put one of those away, but it was good to get the chances. I’m just trying to build on that and hopefully the goals will come soon.”

History says Braun might have to wait a bit longer. Since the beginning of his career, the 24 year old has scored a goal every 281.3 minutes, though his third and fourth seasons were much better than the first two in that regard (one goal every 245.4 minutes in 2010 and ‘11 compared to one goal every 347.1 minutes in ‘08 and ‘09).

Braun will obviously need to test goalkeepers if he is to reach double digits this season, but he seems to be aware of it. While he has been placing a shot on target every 74.2 minutes throughout his career, the forward has forced the Vancouver and Chicago netminders to make a save once every 49.6 minutes in 2012 so far.

Although Braun still has not scored this term, he has listened to his coach’s demands and gotten closer to goal – literally.

CHALKBOARD: See heat maps for both teams in Montreal's tie with Chicago

“I tried to keep myself in front of the goal a little bit more,” Braun explained, “and I think the chances that were created showed that that did help. Hopefully, we can keep working on that. Like I said, it would be good to get one quick here.”

Case in point: Chalkboards of Montreal’s season opener against the Whitecaps show that Sanna Nyassi, who was theoretically playing behind Braun, created much more in the penalty box than the Impact’s No. 17.

Against Chicago on Saturday, however, Braun’s heat map shows more involvement in the final third, while Nyassi’s work is reflected on the right-hand side of the chalkboard. This can be explained by the Gambian international moving to the right during the course of the game -- a location from where, fittingly, he delivered the cross for Arnaud’s goal.

Nyassi's qualities could prove more useful on the flank, should a move there last longer. On Saturday, the Impact found better balance once Arnaud moved to the more central position from which Nyassi’s shooting has been letting him down (one shot every 22.5 minutes in 2012, but those attempts hit the target no more than once every 60 minutes), and the 23 year old is not the most prolific of goalscorers, with one goal every 473.1 minutes during his career.

Perhaps both Nyassi and Braun could have done things differently – and better – since First Kick. But the effort is there, and their coach is willing to get involved in their progress.