The Montreal Impact have pretty consistently fielded the oldest team in the league throughout their MLS existence. Whether it was the likes of Didier Drogba or Marco Di Vaio up top, or Alessandro Nesta or Laurent Ciman at the back, if you were old then the Impact almost certainly had a contract and some playing time for you.
That certainly appears to be over, and with good reason: It decidedly did not work. Montreal have had one good playoff run (2016) and lots of disappointment otherwise, and last year felt like rock bottom. Veterans are supposed to know how to win, how to keep their nerve when games are tight and one mistake is make-or-break, right?
Not so much.
To be fair to Montreal last year's nosedive in one-goal games was not entirely the fault of the veterans, but the fact is that they didn't prevent it obviated the reasons for playing them heavy minutes in the first place. If you can get the same results while fielding a younger roster – one that has a chance to improve through acquired knowhow and chemistry, rather than one that degrades as the years and miles catch up – then you'd be foolish not to do so.
The powers that be in Montreal have decided not to be foolish. They hired Rémi Garde, a manager known for his commitment to youth development, and signed mostly younger players this offseason. Thirty-one year old Blerim Dzemaili was replaced with 20-year-old Jeisson Vargas; 26-year-old Saphir Taïder will get the minutes that went to 38-year-old Patrice Bernier last year; 22-year-old Michael Petrasso and 22-year-old Raheem Edwards will take the playing time that the retirement of Hassoun Camara and the regression of Matteo Mancosu have opened up.
Does this mean the Impact will certainly be better in one-goal games? No. They could still end up being awful. And it doesn't mean they're done playing all the old guys – Ignacio Piatti (may he reign forever) is still the best player on the team and one of the best attackers in the league, while Zakaria Diallo is expected to hold down the central defense. Both those guys are on the other side of 30.
But in the new era for Montreal, they're the outliers. This team will be young and hungry, and the hope is that's a winning recipe that will last for more than just one season.