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The Montreal Impact are going to miss the postseason and manager Mauro Biello has the Montreal Impact are going to miss the postseason and manager Mauro Biello has had to deny that his job is in jeopardy.
Despite the manager’s denial, ownership has not come out and confirmed he’ll be at the helm of the Canadian club next season.
Here’s why Biello should be brought back despite the Impact’s failure to make the playoffs.
FIRST BAD SEASON
The Canadian has been very successful in his previous seasons at the helm of the club. Biello joined more than halfway through the 2015 season and led the team to a third place finish in the Eastern Conference standings.
In his first months as a professional manager Biello posted an impressive regular season record of 7-2-2. His playoff managerial debut was noteworthy as well.
The Impact handily defeated rivals Toronto FC in the knockout round and were only a goal away from a trip to the conference final when they fell to the Columbus Crew 4-3 on aggregate. Biello’s first full season in charge of the Impact was even more of a success in terms of playoff performances.
The team finished fifth in the standings with 45 points but made a deeper playoff run in 2016. In the first two rounds of postseason play the club convincingly beat D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls.
A first leg Eastern Conference final 3-2 win against Toronto FC had the team in good position to make their first MLS CUP appearance ever but a tough 5-2 return leg defeat in Toronto denied them a chance to become league champions.
Biello may have not taken the side to the postseason in 2017 but certainly has proven that he is capable of doing so. One bad season where the team missed out on playoff position shouldn’t cost Biello his position.
MISSING DESIGNATED PLAYER/UNABLE TO ADEQUATELY REPLACE DROGBA
In a league where designated or marquee players can make the difference between victory and defeat, Biello had to do with missing one of Montreal’s two key players for the first two months of the season. The club’s early season performance and failure to make the playoffs does not lie squarely on Biello due to the fact that the team was not at full strength to start the season.
Designated player Blerim Dzemaili, who in December was revealed to be heading to the team in the spring, did not make his debut until after nine games into the season in May. Without Dzemaili and only one designated player the Impact only won two of their first 9 games and only had 10 points.
The Switzerland international has performed superbly for the team in 20 games since joining with 7 goals and 10 assists, and surely would have helped the team get off to a better start if he was around. Biello’s team were not only hampered by missing a key player early in the season, but also by not being able to adequately replace forward Didier Drogba.
In the 2016 season the Chelsea legend led all strikers on the team with 10 goals and was the team’s joint top assist leader with 6. The Ivorian international and the Impact parted ways at the end of the season, but instead of bringing in a forward of similar stature to replace him they gave more playing time to Matteo Mancosu.
Mancosu is no Drogba, the task of having the same impact on the team as the Ivorian did has proven to be too much for the Italian forward. He’s managed to score 5 goals and make two assists in 24 games as the team’s primary forward, but has missed the mark in matching Drogba, who did more last season in less appearances.
Contrary to Mancosu’s failure to make more of being a consistent starter, forward Anthony Jackson Hamel has 9 goals in 20 appearances.
The Impact’s front office has clearly had a role in the team’s performance, the blame for missing the playoffs is not just Biello’s to carry. Biello can surely get the team back to the postseason with at least two full time designated players and by perhaps making Jackson-Hamel the team’s main striker.
POTENTIAL TO TURN THINGS AROUND NEXT SEASON
The Impact are not a lost cause under Biello, they may have hit a low in his tenure but the Canadian is capable of getting them back to the playoffs. Dzemaili will presumably be available for the start of the 2018 season which should help the Impact have a better start to the season if his performance this season is anything to go by.
In addition, Piatti has signed a contract extension that will see him stay with the team beyond 2018. Both designated players will surely be an important part of turning things around next season under Biello.
One of the factors that could help the Canadian club become a playoff team again is finding a forward who can contribute more than Mancosu. They already have that forward in Jackson-Hamel but acquiring a bigger name up top could elevate the team to the level of a top contender.
Regardless of the Impact’s failures this season, Biello is a proven MLS manager who is capable of making the club successful again.
Written by Frank Lara-Risco
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLaraRisco
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