Can Montreal Impact Make A Challenge for The MLS Title In 2021?
2020 was a disappointing season for Montreal Impact in the MLS as they finished 18th in the overall table with 17 points from their 23 matches. Their 1.13 points per game will be something head coach Thierry Henry will be looking to improve on next year.
In the Eastern Conference, Montreal ended ninth of the 14 teams. It was enough in the end to qualify into the playoffs play-in round. Henry’s side were beaten 2-1 by New England Revolution in that game, which meant their postseason did not last very long.
Henry will be into the second year of his two-year contract with Montreal in 2021. How his team perform is likely to determine if he remains with the Canadian franchise beyond his current deal.
In order to challenge the likes of Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC and Columbus Crew FC, Montreal will need to convert a lot of their draws into victories. They only lost two games in the regular season but had 13 draws in the campaign.
Impact Must Do Better Defensively
With 43 goals against them, no team conceded more than Impact in 2020 in the Eastern Conference of the MLS. Only three franchises in the overall table let in more goals than Montreal, who really struggled at the back.
Improving his side in defense has to be the priority for Henry in the offseason or his team are going to struggle again next year. The Frenchman has already made his first signing, with left-back Zorhan Bassong coming in from Cercle Brugge in Belgium. His new defender is a Canada international and is only 21 years old, so he could be a really exciting player for the future.
Rod Fanni, Jukka Raitala and Jorge Corrales all left Montreal after their contracts expired. The space which has been freed up on Henry’s roster allows him to try and find upgrades on what he had available to him in 2020. Fanni, in particular, had an excellent spell with Impact. However, at the age of 38, he is past his best now.
Bojan Could Be Back for Another Year
Impact sporting director Olivier Renard has not ruled out the possibility that Bojan Krkic will return to Montreal in 2021. The former Barcelona forward helped Impact win the Canadian Championship in 2019.
Since arriving in Montreal from Stoke in 2019, Bojan has scored just seven goals in 29 appearances in all competitions. He is capable of much more than that, so he is a player Henry will be keen to get back on board for next season’s MLS campaign.
The experience Bojan has in soccer is invaluable. He has won the UEFA Champions League twice, prevailed in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009 for Barcelona, and he has been capped by Spain and Catalonia.
If he does return next year, Henry’s job will be to get the most from the Spaniard. He will need to decide what his position is for the team to benefit the most from his class. Bojan will also understand it is a big year for him personally. He will want to break into the Spain squad for UEFA Euro 2020 next summer, as difficult as that might be. As of the 4th December, Spain are +800 in the Betway outright market for that tournament, so they will have an excellent chance of lifting the trophy.
Henry Likely to Use Some of His Contacts in The Game
As a player, Henry was one of the best forwards of his generation. He is a legend at Arsenal in England and was also impressive at Barcelona where he won the Champions League in 2009.
Henry is likely to use some of the contacts he has built up in the game to help him recruit for 2021. Working under the Frenchman should be a big draw or a lot of players, as they will feel he can help them improve their game.
If Henry can pull off one or two exciting signings, it could make a big difference on his team. We have seen top-quality players have a big impact in the MLS before so, hopefully, the Montreal boss is already working on persuading some players in Europe to make the switch to Canada.
Next season’s MLS campaign is set to include 27 teams, with Austin FC added as an extension club. Details of the fixtures are set to be released early in 2021.