Attract a star?
It’s a complaint we’ve heard often this year: CF Montreal has no star, other than Quebecer Samuel Piette, to draw crowds to the Saputo stadium. The causes of this lack of interest at the counters can be debated for a long time. But it is clear that CF Montreal has managed small miracles on the ground without aligning a real headliner, series or not.
Here, the credit goes as much to head coach Wilfried Nancy (we will come back to this) as to sporting director Olivier Renard. CF Montreal is young. With an average age of 24.5 years, they are the fourth youngest team on the circuit.
But these young people have made their mark. Djordje Mihailovic, who broke the club’s record for assists in one season with 16, is only 22 years old. Mathieu Choinière, Zachary Brault-Guillard and Zorhan Bassong are the same age. Mason Toye, who scored 8 goals before injury ended his season in mid-August, is 23. Sunusi Ibrahim has shown good flashes late in the season, despite a lack of opportunism. He is only 19.
CF Montreal will have to hope that the work done with these young people in 2021 bears fruit in 2022.
Contracts to be extended … or not
The contracts of Mathieu Choinière, Lassi Lappalainen and Rudy Camacho expire in December. Zachary Brault-Guillard and Joel Waterman’s deals too, but they have extension options. It would be surprising if the club let go of young local stars like Choinière and Brault-Guillard, but we can really ask questions for others.
Rudy Camacho has emerged as a new general in defense, despite an indiscipline sometimes costly in terms of boxes. His leadership has often been noted by Wilfried Nancy. But with a base salary of $ 800,000 per year, his contract isn’t the easiest to renew. And at 30, he’s the club’s second oldest player. Last I heard, his work permit in Canada was expiring at the end of the year. Complicated file if there is one.
That of Bjørn Johnson, acquired last February, should also make Olivier Renard squint. Let’s just say that the striker really hasn’t found his niche in Montreal. He is the club’s third highest paid player. He has only 2 goals on his record, scored in the same game against Miami last May, despite 26 appearances in 2021. And his contract is good until 2022. Try to revive him or take the financial blow and s’ to dispose of it?
Stability as head coach
CF Montreal has historically been used to making drastic decisions vis-à-vis the position of head coach. He’s had eight in nine years in MLS. He’s had three in the past three years. The challenge here is therefore to ensure continuity with Wilfried Nancy.
We were not giving away the skin of CF Montreal this year. But Nancy took advantage of her young team to shape it in her own way. He established a clear playing philosophy. Regardless of the opponent, he does not derogate from it. This aspect is particularly appreciated by players.
Wilfried Nancy initially only had one year on his contract. But after barely seven games played in the calendar, Olivier Renard had seen enough: he exercised the option of the extra year.
Some well-known MLS commentators, like Taylor Twellman, even believe he should be considered Coach of the Year.
Harmony with the supporters
Improving the team on the pitch is one thing. But 2021 was above all the year of rebranding, the division within the community of supporters and the expulsion of the Ultras from their Section 132. A torrent of factors that led to the departure of President Kevin Gilmore.
In discussing with the various groups of supporters on Sunday around the Saputo stadium, one thing was clear, according to them: the name “Impact” must come back, in one form or another.
This is one of the Ultras claims. Member of the 1642 MTL, Sébastien Ouellet believes that there could be “a hybrid, with the word ‘Impact’ incorporated into the name that would suit everyone”.
For Dominique Ritchot, member of the 127 Montreal group, it is “imperative” that “the partisan base be consulted”. Rémi Deroy, also of the 127, is « ready to live » with the idea that the club will take a year to prepare by doing « things according to the rules of the art ».
There was a surge of optimism from the fans following the departure of Kevin Gilmore. The club will have to build on this.
Replace Kevin Gilmore
The challenge is big. And there are many questions.
Many are launching the names of former players, such as Patrick Leduc or Patrice Bernier, to take the place of Kevin Gilmore. The idea is to hire someone who has soccer culture more at heart.
Another school of thought would see the club turn to someone well connected in the business world, with a more subdued role. A person who would thus be responsible for forging solid links between large companies and the club.
The candidate has at least one certainty: he or she will inherit a team which, sportingly, is going in the right direction. The head coach is well in the saddle. Olivier Renard does a good job as sports director.
Its site will be elsewhere. The person elected will have to find new ways to fill the stadium and to ensure the inflow of money. the rebranding was Kevin Gilmore’s big project. He aimed to revive the organization in this MLS 2.0 crowded with expansion clubs. Obviously, the change of name and logo did not by itself explode the counters.