Montreal Impact credit tactical shift, not just players on the field, for emphatic 5-0 win over Houston

Team has found balance between solid defense and ruthless attack

Olivier Tremblay covers the Montreal Impact for MLSsoccer.com

MONTREAL – A common reaction to the Montreal Impact’s emphatic 5-0 win over the Houston Dynamo was: Have Montreal found their best XI?

Not exactly, assistant coach Mauro Biello said on Wednesday, invoking the importance of all 28 members of the squad. But Montreal do seem to have struck a coveted balance between solid defense and ruthless attack, for now at least.

“And in soccer, we know that when you find a winning formula, you don’t just move away from it,” assistant coach Mauro Biello told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “We’re not going to say it was just these 11 players, and boom, we go from there. But a formula certainly did work. We’d like to see that one again and keep on improving it.”

That formula stems from extensive tinkering. Montreal started 2013 playing an effective, but offensively feeble, 4-1-4-1 and later added 4-4-2 to their arsenal. The latter formation finally broke down opposition defenses, but it blew Montreal’s open as well.

One-striker formations now look the way to go. 4-3-3 brought mixed results, but the latest variation, a 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1 shape with Felipe playing off Marco Di Vaio, seems promising.

“At the beginning of the season, you decide how you want to play with the types of players you have, but you still try to find what also works as games, problems, successes and rotations happen,” Biello said. “What we’ve done in terms of formations wasn’t planned beforehand. Many factors such as results, travelling, injuries and all that guide our decisions.”

Additions to the squad are a factor as well, and the signing of midfielder Hernan Bernardello has been inspiring. The Argentine has yet to reach full match fitness, but his work rate in the center alongside Patrice Bernier – responsible, yet creative, as he is – has helped release Felipe.

In the past, Bernardello has played in every formation Montreal have used this season. He could thus be key to Montreal adapting and switching their shape in-game.

“He’s very good tactically. He holds his position, recovering balls, and when we get the ball back, his vision is great,” Biello said. “His distribution and his offensive contribution with the ball are great as well. Such a player’s qualities are going to help us. He fixes the defensive problems we had midfield somewhat.”

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