MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact officially kicked off their training camp Monday morning at Saputo Stadium. 25 players took part in the two-hour session, with the core of last year’s squad being joined by six new players invited by head coach Jesse Marsch.
Ex-Whitecaps defender Wes Knight was amongst the new faces at Saputo, and seemed very satisfied with his first day.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this experience, for a second year in row,” explained the 25-year old. "Jesse contacted me and told me to stay in shape and make sure I was ready for the training camp."
Jamie Watson, Jeremiah White, Bratislav Ristic, Jose Javier del Aguila and Alexis Zywiecki complete the list of new players on trial in Montreal. The group of six boasts a host of MLS experience. Jamie Watson, a 25-year-old striker with USL side Orlando City this season, played with Real Salt Lake from 2005 to 2007 and FC Dallas the following season. Serbian midfielder Bratislav Ristic will also be familiar to MLS fans, after his stints with the Chicago Fire in 2010 and 2011.
Jeremiah White, a 29 year-old American attacker currently without a club, played one game with the US national team against Sweden in 2008. French central defender Alexis Zywiecki, formerly of Ligue 1 club Dijon FCO, also joined the Impact for camp. The final new addition present at the training session was Jose Javier del Aguila, a 20-year-old midfielder currently playing for Guatemalean club Communicaciones.
After spending the last two months analyzing the team from the stands, Marsch was looking forward to getting a better look at some of the players.
“Now, I can implement my methodology on the field,” said Marsch. “I want to build a team that can pass and think, but that can also compete. I think it’s one of the most important elements of what the MLS is about. We’ve had a few examples this morning in training and we’ll nurture that.”
The new coach did not want to go into details of his approach, saying that there is still a lot to think about before setting up a group of core players.
“We still have a lot of question marks on what the group is going to look like,” explained Marsch. “We have a lot of good leads with this group and with other players. I’m treating each player individually to see how they can fit in.”
Montreal have a somewhat crowded medical room as defender Hassoun Camara and strikers Reda Agourram, Pierre-Rudolph Mayard, Ali Gerba, Marco Terminesi and Eduardo Sebrango are all injured and will not be taking part in the training camp.
The club also announced defender Hicham Aaboubou and midfielders Anthony Le Gall and Antonio Ribeiro would not be returning in 2012. The training camp will go on for the rest of the week, and end with a inter-squad match on Saturday.
The Montreal Impact will also be unveiling its very first MLS signing later this afternoon in a press conference.