KISSIMMEE, Fla. – As the Tampa Bay Rowdies mounted an attack on the Montreal Impact goal during their Disney Pro Soccer Classic match on Wednesday, Montreal’s lineup sported a somewhat peculiar shape.
Striker Marco Di Vaio was backtracking on the right. Playmaker Felipe was helping out on the left. Newcomer Andrea Pisanu positioned himself in the hole, behind lone forward ... Justin Mapp. And no one was looking to return to his original position straight away.
Is this a maneuver Montreal could attempt on a regular basis this season?
“Maybe,” head coach Marco Schällibaum told reporters after his team's 4-1 victory, breaking into a sly smile.
Actually, all four were back to their initial positions by the 15th minute, sticking by them until they were all substituted off at halftime. But progressively getting that trick into their bag would help Montreal down the stretch. In the last two months of last season, the Impact struggled to find the net, scoring three goals in six games, which suggests that opponents possibly had found them out offensively.
“That’s a way you can surprise the opponent, all the more so since we’ve got very soccer-savvy players with great intelligence,” Schällibaum explained. “This is a great weapon to have.”
Added Mapp: “Right now, I think that as long as we’re taking up positions, whether it’s me on the right, Pisanu on the left, we just don’t want to get caught with two people on one side at the same side. We have that freedom. We all just have to know our defensive responsibilities.”
The Impact, Schällibaum rightfully pointed out, didn’t put forward such intricate play in the first half only, but that was when the chemistry linking Mapp, Felipe, Di Vaio and Pisanu was there for all to see, especially in the case of the latter two.
The former Bologna teammates beautifully combined after a sublime Calum Mallace through ball for the Impact’s third – Di Vaio’s second – in the 42nd minute.
"It’s very important to me that I give good passes to Marco and to the rest of the team," said Pisanu, who recorded two assists on Wednesday. "I hope to score goals myself, but for me, the team is the first priority.