MONTREAL – The Impact’s 2-1 loss at Chicago last weekend was yet another chapter in the tactical conundrum that is their season.
It fed the narrative according to which Montreal struggle to break down defenses with a lone forward, but score with relative ease when switching to 4-4-2: the Impact hogged the ball as Chicago dropped back after Joel Lindpere’s fifth-minute deflected goal and conceded a second to Dilly Duka. But a second-half Felipe strike got them back in the game seconds after the Brazilian came on with Marco Di Vaio, who partnered Daniele Paponi up front.
While midfielder Patrice Bernier stresses the importance of context, telling MLSsoccer.com “If we don’t concede the first goal and we make it a 1-1 game, everyone’s happy with how we played, keeping the ball," assistant coach Mauro Biello did point out that building on Montreal’s play in that second half made sense as players such as Andrew Wenger recuperate from injuries, new signings integrate and fixtures come quick one after the other.
“It’s not the formation that makes a difference in a game,” Biello told reporters on Tuesday. “Putting a formation together according to your players’ profiles is natural. We always try to find that formation that will benefit the types of players that we have and help us win games.”
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Whether Biello means 4-4-2 is the way forward or not is up for discussion – an almost clean bill of health certainly should facilitate fielding a two-striker formation –, but defender Hassoun Camara agreed with Biello on drawing inspiration from that second half. According to the French all-rounder, the Impact shouldn’t hide behind the discussion on tactical formations. What has to change, he thinks, is the mentality.
“We started well in Chicago, but there were 20, 30 tough minutes when we gave up somewhat and we should have come back to how we organize,” Camara said. “But the second half was much better in every way, recuperating the ball much higher and putting a lot of pressure. It was the same team in both halves, but how we went forward changed.”