2020 Season Preview: Montreal Impact

One superstar out, one superstar in for the Montreal Impact ... as Thierry Henry has been appointed head coach while Ignacio Piatti ended his five-and-a-half season stay in Montreal.

After qualifying for the Concacaf Champions League via the Canadian Championship and moving into the quarterfinals, the Impact have high hopes for this season.

2019 Finish

  • MLS Reg. Season: 41 points (12W-17L-5D), 9th in East / 18th overall
  • MLS Cup Playoffs: Did not qualify
  • Canadian Championship: Winners (vs. Toronto FC)

Star players

  • Saphir Taider — A midfield constant who quietly flies under the radar in MLS, Taider elevated his game in 2019 when Piatti was injured. Can he take another step forward in 2020?
  • Bojan — Added last summer, Bojan began to flash his high quality as he got acclimated to his new club, country and league. After that promising start, even more will be expected from the former Barcelona attacker. 
  • Lassi Lappalainen — Lappalainen also arrived last summer and immediately turned heads with five goals in 683 minutes, good enough to be named No. 8 on MLSsoccer.com' 22 Under 22 rankings. 

Extratime Analysis: Montreal Impact

Key acquisitions and departures

  • IN: Steeven Saba —While a few players saw their loans turn into permanent deals thus far this winter, Saba may be the biggest addition who wasn't with the club last year. The 26-year-old Haitian international was named to the Gold Cup best XI of the group stage last summer.
  • IN: Joel Waterman —Making the journey from the Canadian Premier League to MLS, Waterman adds options in central defense for Henry. 
  • OUT: Ignacio Piatti — After 135 appearances, 66 goals and 35 assists, Piatti's time with Montreal is done. One of the league's best players at his peak, Piatti was a two-time Best XI selection and three-time All-Star.
  • OUT: Daniel Lovitz — Lovitz heads to Nashville SC a trade, as the USMNT left back takes up a new challenge. 

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (3): Evan Bush, Clement Diop, James Pantemis
  • Defenders (8): Luis Binks, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Rudy Camacho, Jorge Corrales, Rod Fanni, Jukka Raitala, Joel Waterman, Karifa Yao
  • Midfielders (12): Clement Bahiya, Mathieu Choiniere, Bojan Krkic, Lassi Lappalainen, Emanuel Maciel, Orji Okwonkwo, Samuel Piette, Steeven Saba, Amar Sejdic, Shamit Shome, Ballou Tabla, Saphir Taider
  • Forwards (3): Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Romell Quioto, Maxi Urruti

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: Orji Okwonkwo, Lassi Lappalainen and Ballou Tabla are three young-ish attackers who each have the talent to produce a monster season and glide seamlessly into the post-Piatti era. Thierry Henry should be able to mix-and-max those guys and create a pretty steady flow of transition opportunities especially if the ball runs through Saphir Taider in central midfield.
  • Weakness: They conceded 60 goals last year and don’t really seem to have upgraded in defense or between the sticks. They brought back their center forward trio that scored just 10 goals in 3700 combined minutes last year, and the team’s been shut out in three of their four preseason games and in one of their two Champions League matches thus far.

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 12th in East
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 13th in East
  • Calen Carr: 10th in East
  • Charlie Davies: 9th in East
  • Matt Doyle: 13th in East
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 11th in East
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports): 9th in East
Series: