It’s hard to look at the standings, see the Montreal Impact leading the East, and imagine that they are ‘losing out’ on anything. But any points dropped now could be crucial towards the end of the season. Thus far into the season, Montreal have dropped six points, three to FC Dallas and three to the Seattle Sounders.
Montreal got off to an awful start last year. It took Didier Drogba’s arrival to push them into the playoffs. Without Drogba, they wouldn’t have made it. It is because of that reason that everybody and their sister predicted that Montreal’s season would be won or loss at the feet (or perhaps on the knees) of Didier Drogba.
What Montreal have done this season is still impressive. Their attack, centered on the creativity of Ignacio Piatti, Harry Shipp and Lucas Ontivero and the speed of Dominic Oduro, has been able to put up the second most goals in the East behind Orlando SC.
But it has been feast or famine. Montreal either score zero or they score two or more. There is no in between. Likewise, there is no slow control of a game. They do not have that ability with the offensive staff in play. Montreal’s offense revolves around quick counters and incisive passing. They don’t have the personnel or the strength to sustain long offensive plays.
Shipp and Piatti often times end up wide left together and Ontivero and Oduro share the right. That makes it tough for the defense because both flanks have significant speed and creativity, but it also makes it easy for the defense because there is no spear head and – most importantly – they can always keep the attack in front of them. Without a blade to their attack, it comes at the defense like a wave, where everyone is moving forward together.
Sure, that kind of attack has its benefits, but as we saw against Dallas and Seattle, that high pace attack can be snuffed out and it can be dealt with.
Another potential problem could arise when Montreal has to fight from behind. Again, defenses can see this attack coming at them the entire length of the pitch. They don’t have to split their attention between the midfielder with the ball and the striker next to them, who is potentially starting a run. That’s because there is no striker potentially starting a run.
Just look at Oduro’s heat map from the match against Dallas. He has no color inside of the 18 yard box. When is the last time a striker pulled that off? That would be in Montreal’s previous match. Oduro just doesn’t spend time in the box.
Montreal has tremendous ability and they can stay in contention with the cast they have. But with Didier Drogba, or with any striker really, they could take it to the next level and be a powerhouse. The problem with that scenario is that they are going to wait it out with Drogba, who has only featured for 20 minutes thus far into the season.