Adam Braz Looking to Second Half of Montreal Impact’s Season
Adam Braz, the technical director of the Montreal Impact, said he’s happy with the first half of the 2016 season but is looking for the team to get better over the final 15 games.
“We’re in a good position in the standings,” Braz said Tuesday as he reviewed the first half of the season following a training session at the Nutrilait complex in Montreal’s east end. “If the season ended today, we’d be in the playoffs, and that’s our objective and then we see if we can make a run.
“Obviously there are things we can improve, and that’s normal, but the coaching staff is analyzing things, working hard with the players on and off the field, making adjustments to try to improve things. We’re satisfied, but we can do better, and there are good things to come in the second half.”
The biggest concern for the Impact is a disappointing record at Saputo Stadium, where the team has two wins, two losses and three draws after losing 3-1 Sunday to New York City FC.
“We’d like to do better at home but, on the flip side, we’re picking up points on the road, where in the past we struggled,” said Braz. “We want to do better in front of our fans and make it a difficult place to come.”
Coach Mauro Biello responded to a suggestion that teams are taking their cue from Toronto FC, which stifled the Impact on April 6, winning 2-0 at Saputo Stadium.
“Teams are going to sit back — it’s normal,” said Biello. “We work on drawing them back and having the confidence to play in tight spaces, and if we do that, we’re going to create openings. It’s hard to play against teams that sit back. We do the same thing on the road and we’ve been successful, but now have to do that every game and be patient. We have to learn that it’s OK to be 0-0 and, at the end of the day, 1-0 is a good result for us.
“Teams are adjusting; they’re going to hard-press us,” said Biello. “They’re going to sit back and choose their moment and attack, and those one or two moments like in the New York game, they hurt us and we can’t let that happen. When we fell behind, we had to chase the game, and we don’t want that.”
Braz sounded like Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin when he said he’s spending a lot of time on the phone talking to other teams about adding a player or two before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
“I think it’s possible (to add a player),” said Braz.
“We’re constantly looking how we can improve the squad within the rules and regulations, and it isn’t always as straightforward as it looks.”
Braz conceded that there are rumours flying around, and one player who is on the Impact’s radar is midfielder Hernan Bernardello, who played for the Impact for part of the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He has been playing in the Spanish Second Division, and his contract is up.
“We’ve had informal talks with him since he left here on good terms,” said Braz. “He’s a good player and he knows the situation here.”
Biello has had to deal with injuries and the loss of players to national team commitments, and Braz said that emphasized the importance of building depth.
“There are always surprises,” said Braz. “For example, Belgium didn’t include Laurent Ciman on their Euro 2016 and then they added him. Every team goes through difficulties with injuries and call-ups, and we’re not going to use that as an excuse. One of the things we try to do is develop some depth, and I think where we are in the standings shows that we’ve been successful.”
That depth has been tested recently with injuries along the back line. There was more bad news Tuesday when the team announced that defender Wandrille Lefèvre suffered a groin injury in the loss to NYCFC and will be out for a couple of weeks.
Ciman, the MLS’s top defender last season, and Donny Toia are on the limp, but Biello is hoping that at least one of them will be ready to face the Philadelphia Union Saturday night at Saputo Stadium. If neither is ready, Biello will turn to recently acquired Amadou Dia, who was born in France and raised in California.