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Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:26 am
As the Hollywood laced, scripted conclusion to the 2014 season was playing itself out in southern California last Sunday afternoon, back at MLS Headquarters in Manhattan the league was pulling down the 2014 shutters and transitioning to 2015. A season where the league will celebrates its 20th year of existence. With the addition of two new clubs, who absolutely refuse to refer to themselves as expansion franchises, and the guarantee of further expansion news in the new year, a new CBA in place, gaining audiences both at the box office, the broadcast booth and as vital a gaining credibility for MLS across planet futbol, the hallmark ingredients have been put in place whereby history may well tell us 2015 was MLSs defining moment. As MLS goes for 2015 so it goes for the Montreal Impact. In pure and simple terms 2014 represents for the leagues 19th franchise - a drop dead 19th and last place finish during MLSs 19th season. Think about that for a minute. It was a season which contained turmoil and significant moves both on and off the pitch. The Montreal Impacts transition towards 2015 you could say began May 10th immediately following a numbing 0-3 reversal at home to Sporting KC when club President Joey Saputo tweeted changes were coming. At the time, the club had managed only a solitary victory in nine league matches, and barely 72-hours before the 2013 MLS Cup winners were to comprehensively beat the Impact for a second time so early in the season, the club had suffered a highly embarrassing 2-1 defeat away to Edmonton in the Canadian Championship. Deep soul searching was required from all concerned. Although results and performances improved and the late summer arrival of Piatti moved the Stade Saputo platelets - as a long and weary season wore on the Impact were not able to recover from not only its bottom position in the Eastern Conference but across the entire league. With the self-imploding for years Chivas USA managing to win 50% more matches than the Impact, including a victory on the road, it underlines the enormity of the task at hand as the Impact look to rebuild for 2015. Six or so weeks on from Marco Di Vaios final bow we now know the 2014 core will return. Its only right and fitting for a multitude of purposes, including footballing reasons essentially, that yesterday we finally discovered after months of negotiations, club captain Patrice Bernier would return in 2015. Yesterdays announcement coming almost three years to the day back in December 2011 when the club introduced Bernier to the media from their downtown offices as the local lad returned home to his soccer roots and to the club which gave him his professional start back in 2000. Bernier might only offer in 2015 glimpses of his 2013 self when he was without doubt the clubs most outstanding player, earned an automatic All-Star selection. When he does finally hang those boots up, Bernier can always remind himself of the extraordinary tribute paid to him by Thierry Henry, let there be no doubt within Berniers character lies the Montreal Impacts heart and soul. Its mere identity if you like. Bernier offers the ballast and balance for a highly diverse locker room and is also the face of the franchise - inspiring not only the younger playing core but also the front office. Nobody at the club does or offers more than Bernier. Im no soothsayer but an Impact rebuild in 2015 without Bernier on board could have had catastrophic consequences for the club. 2014s dramatic fall off at the Stade Saputo turnstile emphasises the vital importance of 2015 to the Impact. Its an explicit reminder the supporters have no patience whatsoever for a slow rebuild. The club can ill afford a few seasons in the doldrums, forgoing play-off appearances, as in turn it nurtures the academy talent and slowly brings in the calibre of player both from overseas and from within MLS which would better position the Impact with the long run in mind. Bringing in a Donadel and acquiring Reo-Cocker off the waiver wire after Wednesdays Expansion draft speaks to the need for the accelerated approach. If bringing in a 30-something plus Italian veteran has surprised absolutely no one, the signing of a player with Barclays Premier League experiences, and English at that, certainly does. Not too many English born players have ever passed through the Montreal Impact gates throughout its twenty plus year history. Then factor in MLS is a league renowned for its thrust, fast pace and physicality, this has always left me with unanswered questions. Reo-Coker might not be everyones cup of tea but he certainly should be able to offer the Impact something that was almost invisible last season, an individual who looks like he might actually want the ball. Shy away he certainly does not. His time at West Ham included Championship football, promotion to the BPL, an FA Cup Final against Liverpool and appointment as club captain, by then manager Alan Pardew. Huge experience to lean and learn from as he pulls up sticks in Montreal, whose socks he knows full well are in desperate need of pulling up. His two seasons in the league should also serve him well. He also offers to the Montrealer an English voice, a Londoner by birth at that. All things cool Britannia are very much in vogue across le Belle Ville these days and none more so than with the sophisticated urban dwelling Quebecker. A chirping Reo-Coker provides the Montreal Impact with a unique charm at a most appropriate time. Dont get me wrong, aware its not a bloody big deal but Reo-Coker after his summer spent in LA couldnt have landed in a better MLS city. A spring romance with Montreal awaits. For Adam Braz, the clubs newly minted Technical Director there would be no honeymoon. As soon as his appointment was announced it was wholeheartedly mocked and ridiculed. Braz will not give a hoot. Why should he. Youve only got to have watched him as a player to understand this is an individual who sets aside others feelings. The no nonsense approach from Braz can only be of benefit to him as he navigates his way through unchartered territory. As the ex, Manchester United and Chelsea CEO Peter Kenyon once reminded us, his job was solely to be successful and if he picked up a few friends, and was liked along the way, then that would be a bonus. If passion and enthusiasm are two vital traits no matter what you endeavour, Braz has those in abundance. Learn on the job he certainly will, and must. Following all the recent comings and goings we should expect to hear further announcements regarding the playing squad in the coming days as we count down the days to the holiday break. With the Impact kicking off their season 24th February against Pachuca in the quarter finals of the CONCACAF Champions League training camp will open a little earlier than it has in recent seasons. It is essential that as many of those players on Frank Klopas laundry list are signed and announced well before then. Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca @TheSoccerNoel Dennis Johnson Jersey . Griffin scored 13 of his 31 points in the final 7:05 and Dudley got 11 of his 20 points in the third quarter, leading the defending Pacific Division champions to a 112-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night. "Dud is a shooter. Dick Snyder Jersey . Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel also accused Pistorius of tailoring his testimony to fit the evidence at the scene. Pistorius denied the accusations. 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