The Montreal Impact returned to MLS action in impressive fashion, claiming six out of a possible nine points and snapping Toronto FC’s unbeaten streak on Wednesday night. Thierry Henry has made the most of his side’s recent fixtures to experiment with his starting eleven and has slowly set the foundation for an unconventional 4-3-3.
The former Monaco manager has deployed summer arrival Romell Quioto – a traditional winger – at striker, with the position switch already paying dividends. The 30-year-old has led the line with great aplomb, netting a goal and an assist in the Impact’s last three games. Quioto most recently set up Rudy Camacho’s winner against Toronto FC, delivering an inch-perfect cross to the Belgian defender at the back post.
“He works hard in the game and now he’s loving that he’s scoring goals,” Henry said on Quioto’s recent emergence. “Once you have that taste in your mouth, you don’t want to lose it.”
Henry has flanked the former Houston Dynamo man with Finnish international Lassi Lappalainen and Saphir Taider. The French head coach has given Taider the license to get forward in support of the front two, rather than deploy him from his traditional midfield position. The Algerian has since thrived in an advanced role, regularly combining with Lappalainen on the left.
Taider is always looking to filter in dangerous crosses into the imposing Quioto, as evidenced in the Impact’s 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. The duo combined to devastating effect, after Taider’s trivela found Quioto unmarked in the box for an easy header.
Impact defender Zachary Brault-Guillard has been tasked with providing width on the opposite wing and put in an all-action display in his side’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC. The 21-year-old was a constant menace down the right-hand side, registering four crosses on the night. In fact, only Samuel Piette had more touches than Brault-Guillard. As Quioto gains familiarity with the movements of a traditional No. 9, expect Brault-Guillard’s importance to grow within Henry’s setup.
Victor Wanyama and Samuel Piette form an uncompromising partnership in the middle of the park, shielding the Impact’s back four, with Emanuel Maciel largely responsible with progressing play. The former San Lorenzo man may have gotten sent off last night for a rash tackle on Michael Bradley, but has recently emerged as a favorite for Henry in the midfield.
The French tactician praised Maciel’s recent form, following his assist in the Impact’s 2-0 win over the Whitecaps.
“He’s been doing that for a while now, we just needed to find a formation to hit him in,” Henry said. “Manu did some Manu, he’s a calm guy, an Argentine, he knows when to attack, when to keep the ball, and when to give the ball to his forwards.”
The Impact still have work to do despite the positive results. Henry’s side are currently struggling to create chances from open play and often resort to set-piece situations to unlock games. Only the Whitecaps have registered fewer shots on target than the Impact until now, indicating Henry may shake things up once more in the final third.
The Impact will not have to wait long before the next installment of the Canadian Classique, as they will host Toronto FC at Saputo Stadium next Wednesday. Henry’s tactical tweaks have given his men new life since the restart, but the 43-year-old knows his work has just begun.