The Montreal Impact announced on Wednesday afternoon that the club parted ways with manager Remi Garde. In the same statement, they introduced former Houston Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera as their new head coach. Cabrera had been let go by the Dynamo on Aug. 13, nine days before Montreal’s announcement.
It’s a decisive move by Montreal. Remi Garde had proven capable of winning in Major League Soccer. Over a 38-game span from June 23, 2018 to June 26, 2019, Garde’s Impact compiled 1.68 points per game; over a 34-game season, that would be good enough for top five in MLS.
It was the spans on either side of those 38 games, specifically the most recent one, that doomed the Frenchman. Montreal have lost six of the last eight games and fallen into a scrap for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
In comes Cabrera. Why hire someone whose last job ended in a 2-11-1 skid in MLS play? A couple reasons, perhaps.
Impact president Kevin Gilmore tells reporters at a press conference that Montreal and Remi Garde held discussions about a new contract just 1.5 weeks ago.— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) August 22, 2019
Asked earlier about Wilmer Cabrera's contract, Gilmore said "we're all interim." Didn't specify length of Cabrera's deal.
Montreal are in survival mode: They need a new manager, but they need someone who knows how to navigate MLS. They can’t promote an assistant like Houston, Colorado and Cincinnati have this season; they want real experience for a tough moment. They also can’t hire from outside MLS, because that person might need time to acclimate. Cabrera knows everything about the league right now.
It’s worth pointing out that IMFC did not release the length of Cabrera’s contract; I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a short-term, emergency answer to navigate the rest of the year; Cabrera is coaching for a job as much as the Impact are hoping to make the playoffs.
On top of that, Cabrera’s proven he can win in knockout situations. He took the Dynamo to the Western Conference Championship round in 2017, as well as a U.S. Open Cup championship in 2018. Need someone who knows how to approach a few must-win games in a row? Cabrera has done it before.
With all that said, it’s still a surprising and risky move. There are reasons to believe it could work out. If it doesn’t, though, you’re the club that hired the guy who had just gone 2-11-1, and you’ll be starting all over again come winter.