Montreal Impact head coach Frank Klopas decided to shuffle his line-up ahead of his team’s midweek game against Real Salt Lake.
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The changes initially appeared to have a positive effect on the squad; they conceded early, but fought back and managed to tie it up before half-time.
Then, disaster struck as midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran was sent off, bringing the Impact down to ten men. Not even five minutes later, Montreal was behind for good.
During the club’s four game losing streak, many of the contests have been close. Take a look;
1-0 v. Chivas USA – 94th minute bicycle kick winner
2-1 v. Sporting K.C. – 89th minute miscommunication
2-1 v. Colombus Crew – Two goals from distance, gives up 1-0 lead
3-1 v. Real Salt Lake – Red card costs them
For those games, Klopas has gone with a fairly basic 4-4-2 that looks something like this;
The line-up was having some success and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Montreal would start putting up results.
But for their game against RSL, the squad below was fielded;
May 28, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Montreal Impact manager Frank Klopas gestures to his players during a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Klopas went back to the 4-2-3-1 that the Impact were using earlier in the year. Let’s break it down…
Evan Bush was given his second straight start in goal ahead of Troy Perkins. Bush may just have cemented his place as the number one, as he set a franchise record with eight saves Thursday night.
The defense hasn’t been great, but it hasn’t been a problem either. The usual flat-four were put out and Hassoun Camara netted his first goal of the season.
The centre of the park is where the biggest changes were made. Under the 4-4-2, Patrice Bernier would be set further back so he would sit just in front of the defense, allowing Felipe to push further up.
By bringing in Callum Mallace, Bernier was given some much needed support in defensive midfield.
With Mallace helping Bernier, Felipe could now become a through and through attacking midfielder.
Andrés Romero shifted from the left side to the right to make room for Canadian International Nakajima-Farran, who replaced Justin Mapp on the right.
The midfield has arguably been the Impact’s strongest area this season and seeing so many changes is a bit troubling.
With five in the midfield, there was only room for one striker. Marco Di Vaio had been hot, scoring in his two previous games. If they stick with this formation, Jack McInerney will surely get his fair share of games as well.
These changes occurred because of a number of factors, but here are the two big ones;
The play of the team is the most obvious and the manager is trying to keep players on their toes and show that no job is safe. Had the shake up worked (which it was, until the red card), Klopas would have looked like a genius.
Unfortunately for him and the fans, it didn’t.
The other is that Montreal is in the mist of three games in eight days and with the CONCACAF Champions League coming up, some of the regulars were in need of a rest.
One of the main reasons the Impact faltered at the end of last season was because they were tired and the big players were overused. That overuse was one of the things that lead to Marco Schallibaum’s firing.
Klopas doesn’t want to go down that road. No manager does.