CARSON, Calif. – While Jesse Marsch and the Montreal Impact are still in the “getting to know you” phase of the team’s first MLS preseason, Impact owner Joey Saputo is on a plane heading in the other direction, potentially bringing a new face back with him to Quebec.
“DP or not DP,” Saputo Tweeted on Thursday afternoon. “On my way to Europe to meet with one of our prospects. Need to be patient.”
Steven Goff of The Washington Post then tweeted that the target could be FC Lugano’s Dante Senger, an Argentine striker, but the Impact declined to comment.
Either way, Marsch & Co. know that the job of building a locker room and establishing a club culture is still in its earliest stages, and that whoever comes in as a DP – be it Senger, or one of the various and sundry other targets floating around the blogosphere – will have to be a game-changer, a leader and, most importantly, the right fit.
“You have to taper expectations and now just, more than anything, have this person be a member of this team,” Marsch told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday afternoon. “Because regardless of how much money they make and how much success they have and the kind of player they are, what’s most important is that they fit in your team the right way and make your team better.”
Fitting the right way shouldn’t be too tough in a locker room that’s a bit more mature and experienced than the typical MLS expansion franchise. Davy Arnaud and Brian Ching, in particular, have both seen just about everything the league has on offer.
“You know a Designated Player, if you get the right one, is definitely going to help the team out,” Ching explained to MLSsoccer.com. “But that’s the tricky thing. Finding the guy who’ll come here, work hard – like a Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Robbie Keane – when they come into the league they make a difference not only on the field, but off the field and in the locker room.”
Arnaud shared time in 2011 with two DPs in Mexican forward Omar Bravo and Brazilian midfielder Jéferson at Sporting Kansas City. Bravo showed well in his lone MLS season, while Jéferson struggled to find playing time. Both players headed back to their respective home countries, and Sporting – despite not having a DP – remain one of the Eastern Conference favorites.
“You’ve seen teams that have had success both ways [with and without Designated Players],” Arnaud said. “At the end of the day, that’s up to the front office and to the staff to make those kind of decisions. As players, you go out there every day and feel like you can win and you want to win with the guys who are here.
“You know if there was somebody else that was to come in, we’d welcome that person with open arms. But as it is now, I’m confident in the group that we have.”
Marsch sounds confident as well, emphasizing that he’s assembled the group he has now for a reason. And that he’s not going to be broadcasting his roster-building intent at the moment.
“I don’t follow [Saputo’s] Twitter account,” Marsch said with a wry smile. “Joey and [technical director Nick De Santis] are on their way to go to Europe to visit with different people. We’ve worked hard to try to find good DPs, and we continue to work hard and have different discussions. So we’ll see where this goes.”