Montreal Impact welcome break to work on set plays

MONTREAL – Playing every three days leaves limited time for in-depth work on the training field.

The Montreal Impact thus welcome the current 10-day break not just for rest, but also for work, purposes. Marco Schällibaum and his staff will get to address a few issues, among them set plays.

After the Impact’s 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake last Saturday, Schällibaum identified set plays and corners – Matteo Ferrari’s dramatic winner notwithstanding – as an area of concern. With little time on their hands, the Impact carried over the trend perceived against RSL to the Amway Canadian Championship final first leg this Wednesday: free kick takers floated balls wide and out of play, or into the opposition goalkeeper’s hands.

“Sure, it’s been frustrating, but you know, there are games where it works out, and others where it doesn’t,” frequent set play target Hassoun Camara said on Thursday. “We’ve got enough quality in the likes of Patrice [Bernier] and Marco [Di Vaio], who can take on those responsibilities. We trust them. Set plays can’t make a difference every game. We have to keep on working with the same mentality.”

In fairness, it’s not so easy to fully assimilate set play routines five months into any head coach’s tenure. While assistant coach Mauro Biello recognizes that quality deliveries and impeccable timing remain the key elements on a set piece, Schällibaum has brought in new ideas that simply haven’t yet been given time to become second nature.

“Our patterns are new, and it takes time,” Biello said. “We must work some more to throw an element of surprise to the other team. Everyone can prepare well for classic patterns. But if you can bring something different and surprise the other team with something unexpected, with a good delivery in the box, you can score goals.”

And as Hassoun Camara implies, the moment Montreal nail the new patterns won’t be the moment they become predictable.

“We’ll try to work on some more tactical possibilities,” the French defender said. “It should be good. And the coach still has tons of ideas.”