Over the next two weeks, MLSsoccer.com will preview each of the 19 teams in Major League Soccer, beginning with the clubs that brought up the bottom of the table in 2012 and ending with the Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes. This is part two of two previewing Montreal's 2013 season. You can find Part 1 here.
2012 record: 12-16-6 (42 points); 45 GF / 51 GA (-6 GD)
Depth Chart: 1. Troy Perkins, 2. Evan Bush, 3. Brad Stuver
Strengths: Those in the Impact front office are still rubbing their hands in glee that they were able to trade for Perkins. While former Impact ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts never gave the impression of being at ease between the Montreal posts, Perkins celebrated his first start as the team’s No. 1 with a shutout. And Perkins – with some hair growth added to his previously clean shaven look – has been in tremendous form this preseason.
Weaknesses: Soon to be 27-years-old, Bush only has one MLS start under his belt, a 3-0 drubbing by D.C. United last June. Stuver was drafted only weeks ago. There is a clear lack of MLS experience behind Perkins.
Wild card: Bush, although he doesn't have a ton of MLS game experience, put on an outrageously good performance in a friendly against Olympique Lyonnais last summer. He’ll push Perkins to the limit if given a chance.
Depth Chart: RB: 1. Hassoun Camara, 2. Zarek Valentin; CB: 1. Alessandro Nesta – Matteo Ferrari, 2. Hassoun Camara, 3. Karl Ouimette, 4. Nelson Rivas; LB: Jeb Brovsky, 2. Dennis Iapichino, 3. Maxim Tissot (U-21)
Strengths: Two former Italian internationals, including a World Cup winner, will likely start at center back. Should Rivas manage to get and stay healthy, Montreal’s group of central defenders will be very, very good indeed.
Weaknesses: The outside backs will be asked to push forward more this season. Yet Marco Schällibaum essentially has at his disposal the same group of left and right backs that Jesse Marsch had. The offensive contribution from wide was mediocre at best in 2012, and the Camaras, Brovskys and Valentins in the squad will need to do their part.
Wild card: Left back Tissot is one of the Impact Academy's standouts there were invited to partake in the first team’s preseason. He wasted no time getting himself noticed, assisting on Andrew Wenger’s winner seconds after coming on against Sporting Kansas City. Schällibaum enjoys bringing youngsters through, and Tissot, who stood head and shoulders above every other player invited to camp, might just become the third Canadian in the squad.
Depth Chart: LM: 1. Justin Mapp, 2. Sanna Nyassi; CM: 1. Felipe – Davy Arnaud, 2. Patrice Bernier, 3. Andrea Pisanu; 4. Sinisa Ubiparipovic; RM: 1. Andrea Pisanu, 2. Davy Arnaud, 3. Andrés Romero; DM: 1. Patrice Bernier, 2. Collen Warner, 3. Calum Mallace
Strengths: Sheer numbers and diversity in the center of the park. Felipe can deliver the final pass or finish plays himself. Arnaud is a determined, resolute figure who draws a ridiculous amount of fouls year after year – and he can score, too. Bernier has an astounding ability to dictate the tempo of games. Pisanu brings technique and imagination.
Weaknesses: The likes of Felipe, Romero and Nyassi are still young enough to feel like running a marathon after a big win. Arnaud, Bernier and Pisanu, for their part, are all on the wrong side of 30. Pace will inevitably be needed at times to link an aging defense and a 36-year-old striker, and the older players’ legs might get heavy during the busier stretches of this season.
Wild card: Selected by Montreal with the 8th overall pick of the last SuperDraft and still unsigned, Smith has yet to impress with goals and assists in preseason games. But he does have the pace and, more crucially, an impressive positioning ability for a 22-year-old. It would be a stretch to suggest he could find himself in a regular starting role in MLS this season, but he could log decent minutes, especially if the Impact win the Canadian Championship and qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League.
Depth Chart: 1. Marco Di Vaio, 2. Andrew Wenger, 3. Sanna Nyassi, 4. Andrés Romero
Strengths: Five goals and three assists in half a season in MLS is not a bad return for a 36-year-old who played for 14 months straight without much of a rest. With an actual offseason and no match-fixing scandal on his mind, Di Vaio could very well hit double figures in 2013.
Weaknesses: The Impact will hope that Di Vaio’s 36 years of age don’t catch up with him. Last season, Wenger scored three of his four goals as a starter, which indicates he could theoretically lead Montreal’s front line. But should that experiment fail, Nyassi is next in line, and his exploits on the counterattack suggest that Schällibaum might seek to field him in the second half of games with his team leading.
Wild card: Romero is listed at No. 4 here, as he has mostly been given playing time on the right of midfield so far. Should he find the net from out wide, Schällibaum could be tempted to give him a chance up front.