After winning the Giuseppe Saputo trophy presented to the Montreal Impact’s MVP, Ignacio Piatti posed for photos with team president Joey Saputo. It was now the fourth straight year that both men posed for that photo.
Saputo turned to his Argentine designated player after the flashes ended and said: “Nacho, one more and we’ll change the name of the trophy.
It is no secret by now: Wherever Piatti goes, the Impact follow. With a year and an option left on his contract, the team leader in goals and assists this season pressed on his intentions to stay put in 2019, possibly forcing Saputo to double down on his joke a year from now.
“I want to come back next season, for sure,” Piatti said. “But I don’t know what life awaits for me. I can’t go further than that.”
The Argentine also believes that what caused the Impact’s slow start was—in part—the number of new arrivals to the team. Piatti has high hopes for 2019 if Remi Garde, general manager Adam Braz and the Impact front office keep the turnaround low.
“I think that if a lot of players stay, we will be able to start the season better than last season,” Piatti said. “We had a very good physical preparation this season but we didn’t start very well. Maybe it was tough mentally, a lot of players came in, there was a new coach, but now we know each other.”
“If we don’t change a lot I think that we can reach the final. I want to win here.”
With a total of 16 acquisitions since December 2017, Piatti’s teammates agree that keeping the turnaround to a minimum would help the Impact in 2019. For Daniel Lovitz, the Impact has a lot of silver linings to hold on to despite missing the playoffs on Decision Day. The fullback thinks that his team has a unique culture in MLS and “all the right pieces, to be quite honest.”
“I remember speaking [on Tuesday] with some of the coaches about being a little bit isolated from the league here in Montreal,” Lovitz said. “Maybe we do things a little bit differently and maybe the league doesn’t really understand that or care for it but as long as we know what we’re doing inside this locker room, I think there’s no reason we can’t win MLS Cup, frankly.”
For Lovitz, the key for the Impact going forward is to model itself to teams like the New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City.
“Those teams are consistently competitive at a level that I think we have every ability to compete at,” Lovitz said. “I’m not saying we should keep everybody in the locker room and make sure that the team stays the same but we understand the pieces that we have, we understand what we want to build on but the most important thing is the culture.”
Some of the Impact’s new arrivals from the 2018 season expressed their intentions to stay with the team going forward. Rod Fanni admitted to have had initial discussions with the Impact front office, expressing his desire to stay and that, for him “it stays unfinished.” Bacary Sagna also added that he enjoyed what he saw from the Impact and from MLS. The former French international moved his family to Montreal and hopes to stay with the team.
Evan Bush, who was named the Impact’s defensive player of the year, also started discussions with the front office. The goalkeeper admitted to having started contract talks during the season but they dimmed down as the season progressed.
“It’s been eight years that I’ve been here,” Bush said. “The family’s from here, we’re expecting a third in January so it’s a place that we’re certainly familiar and comfortable with. Hopefully we can figure something out in the coming weeks.”
Much of the Impact’s turnaround could very well happen at the striker position. Combined, the three strikers scored a total of six goal, one shy of Saphir Taider’s tally this season.
Uncertainty looms around all three of the Montreal Impact’s current strikers, Matteo Mancosu, Quincy Amarikwa and Anthony Jackson-Hamel. Mancosu and Jackson-Hamel were pushed aside with the arrival of Amarikwa at the trade deadline. As for Amarikwa, he only produced one goal since his trade and was subbed out in the team’s crucial regular season finale against the New England Revolution.