Impact brass reveal they nearly held on to Sounders' EJ
MONTREAL — Oh, what could have been.
Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo, sporting director Nick de Santis and vice president Richard Legendre provided their assessment of the club's 2012 expansion season on Wednesday morning and amidst the optimism, they did express one or two regrets when it came to personnel moves.
It's easily forgotten today, but Seattle Sounders' 14-goalscorer Eddie Johnson was a Montreal Impact player on Feb. 17 with the first pick in the allocation order. But EJ, who helped the US national team qualify for the CONCACAF Hexagonal, was swiftly offloaded in exchange for forward Mike Fucito, who has since departed to Portland, and midfielder Lamar Neagle, who was in the middle of the pack as far as playing time for Montreal this season.
The sixth-leading scorer in MLS would have undoubtedly helped Montreal, especially in the early months of 2012 when designated player Marco Di Vaio was still a Bologna player, and De Santis admitted that they did their best to hold on to him.
WATCH: GK Troy Perkins arrives in Montreal
"We tried to convince him to come to Montreal, but he came back from Europe for personal and family reasons and wanted to stay in the United States," De Santis said. "Could we have held on to him? Yes, but that's how the Brian Ching situation started. This is why we took that decision."
De Santis also could not help but wonder what could have been on the goalkeeping front had a move happened earlier. Montreal fans were thrilled to land 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts, but the Jamaican quickly turned into one of the year's disappointments. Unhappy in Montreal, the veteran was traded to the Portland Timbers on August 7 having conceded 39 goals in 24 games for the Impact.
"As far as Ricketts goes, when you talk of a disappointment, this was a big one," De Santis admitted. "Mistakes happen in professional sports, and you have to find solutions. We might have waited a bit too long before moving him. But in the end, I'm happy with the solution we found."
Current Impact No. 1 Troy Perkins went the other way and has put on great performances for his new club, allowing eight goals in nine outings and making new fans at Stade Saputo with his all-around solid and confident play.
Still under contract for one more season, the Perkins looked back with pride on his first season with the club and admitted that he also would have wished his Montreal adventure started sooner.
"Yeah, with the way things went, maybe [the trade happening] six weeks earlier would have been beneficial," Perkins told reporters. "And saying that, the circumstances we were in, I think that all of us would have made the best of it."