- Montreal Impact (MTL)
- Eastern Conference
- Home: Stade Saputo
- Canadian Championship: 2013, 2014
Would he? Wouldn’t he? Didier Drogba made countless transfer headlines this offseason, but he’ll be a Montreal Impact player in 2016. End of story.
In the meantime, the Impact had to put a roster together, too. Because, no, it’s not all about the uncertainty around Drogba. It’s also about stability.
No less than 24 players from the 2015 Montreal team are back. Top assist man – and second highest scorer behind Drogba – Ignacio Piatti will be playing a second full MLS season. Reigning MLS Defender of the Year Laurent Ciman’s here, with central defense partner Victor Cabrera completing his transfer from River Plate. Marco Donadel returns at the base of Montreal’s midfield triangle – head coach Mauro Biello looks set to field a broad 4-3-3 formation again.
The Impact have made few additions, but the move for Chicago Fire’s Harry Shipp delighted the Montreal fanbase – and mostly irked Chicago’s. 2016 MLS SuperDraft pick Kyle Fisher is eager to learn his trade from Ciman, while Lucas Ontivero hopes to find a new home for his tricks in Montreal.
In 2014, Montreal didn’t make too many moves, either. That didn’t go too well. But this training camp feels different, with more positive energy. And with that man Drogba on the field, Montreal could well make the right kind of headlines this season.
Armchair Analyst's Take
What Drogba did at the end of last season was magical and probably not repeatable, at least not over a 34-game season. He won’t do that again.
But Biello & Co. have proved that they’re no dummies. Their offseason moves were smart and understated. In bringing back their entire backline they’ve ensured year-over-year continuity; in trading for Shipp, they poached one of the league’s best under-25 playmakers, and seem intent upon playing him in a spot that highlights his strengths; in rebuffing multiple offers for Eric Alexander and coaxing one more year out of captain Patrice Bernier, they’ve ensured depth at the No. 8 spot at midfield.
The one concern might be the wing, with Andres Romero hurt and both Justin Mapp and Dilly Duka gone. But even there, they brought in Ontivero to compete with Dominic Oduro, Johan Venegas and, most likely, Piatti.
So for the first time in their MLS history, the Impact had what I’d consider to be a shrewd offseason. That means they can afford for Drogba to be something closer to mortal.
Key Offseason Transactions
|KEY PLAYERS IN:||KEY PLAYERS OUT:|
Nigel Reo - Coker
Player to Watch: Harry Shipp
The easy answer is Drogba. Or Piatti. But perhaps the most fascinating is Shipp, who now must find his way outside the comfort of his hometown. The Impact have the pieces to make his skill set shine. Will he deliver?
Bush; Oyongo - Cabrera - Ciman - Toia; Donadel - Mallace - Shipp; Venegas - Drogba - Piatti
A full season with Drogba in the mix should translate to fantasy points all-around for the Impact. Harry Shipp enhances an already strong midfield attack led by Ignacio Piatti and comes at a $2.0m discount. Goalkeeper Evan Bush and defender Laurent Ciman will look to improve on a strong 2015 fantasy campaign.
- Lucas Ontivero
- Johan Venegas
- Cameron Porter