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Butler: Impact shuffle the deck again ahead of DC encounter

Noel Butler
5/16/2014 9:34:10 PM
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The old adage a week is a long time in politics will likely be ringing in Collen Warner's ears as he made his way to join up with his new teammates at BMO Field Friday morning. 

For a player who started all nine league games this season, often out of his central midfield holding role to an attacking berth out on the flank, the last image Impact supporters are left with is of the long walk to the locker room for Warner following his red card against the MLS Champs last Saturday afternoon at Saputo Stadium.

We all know how that game finished. A fifth league defeat in a season that appears to be getting further away from a club which is desperate to make amends for how their 2013 campaign ended.

For a team that less than 72-hours earlier had lost to Edmonton, a team at the bottom of the NASL standings, the Sporting KC defeat compounded the misery that has engulfed the club.

Joey Saputo let it be known changes would be coming.

His tweet last Saturday was delivered even before the rest of Warner's teammates had made it back to the safety of the locker room. Where they would discover Sunday morning training had been added to the weekly itinerary.

Blake Smith's loan to NASL's Indy 11 announced Tuesday was a cue the club were on the search for a wide attacking midfielder. The splendid form to date of Justin Mapp has magnified how inadequate the team's options are on the wing, as did using Warner out wide. Trading for Nakajima-Farran immediately addresses this.

Warner has faced undue criticism this season. When all he did was do what was asked of him. Used sparingly in a starting role by Schällibaum, his elevated playing role this term led to some even questioning the relationship between Warner and his head coach.

Similar to April 4th's trade which saw Andrew Wenger depart for the Union, the consensus is that Impact Sporting Director, Nick De Santis has pulled off another favourable trade. The allocation money going Montreal's way certainly sweetens the pot.

Returning to league play Saturday evening after the bye week and on the back of Wednesday's fun and games in the return leg against Edmonton, provides the Impact with the chance to get only their second win of the season.

Worryingly Di Vaio, who spent Wednesday evening watching the game from the pitch stood just behind the Impact bench, has still not fully recovered from a hamstring strain which he first suffered back on April 19th in the away game against Sporting KC. He is doubtful for the game in DC.

A game which will reunite the Impact with their old club captain Davy Arnaud, whose contact was not renewed by the Impact at the conclusion of last season.  Revitalized since DC acquired him, Arnaud has played a significant part for a club that is only two wins away from surpassing their entire point total from the 2013 season. 

Not one who would ever describe himself as the most gifted technically, the Impact has certainly missed his tireless work rate. Arnaud's dedication to the cause is a clear illustration of something else the team has sorely lacked as the Impact sit firmly rooted to bottom place in the conference.

Another player who will not lack in motivation Saturday is Eddie Johnson, who was spurned by Jürgen Klinsmann when he announced a 30-man USMNT World Cup roster on Monday.

Johnson more than anyone will not need reminding of his eight game scoreless run since been traded from Seattle to DC is hardly the form befitting of a player who scored many crucial goals during World Cup qualification.

DC, who overhauled their squad in the off season following a woeful 2013, is the surprise package in the league this season and would signify a significant scalp for the Impact.

To do so the Impact will certainly have to overcome the set piece jitters which have plagued them all season. Defensively they will have to be as they were in their solitary win so far and Justin Mapp will have to yet again carry the attacking threat.

On Wednesday evening at Saputo Stadium just before kickoff rather aptly a "Through Thick and Thin" banner was unveiled in the stands. Patience has been tested, perseverance is now required.

Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca
@TheSoccerNoel

DC United Vs Montreal Impact live on TSN690 [TSN690.ca] Saturday. Kick Off 7:00pm – Rick Moffat [@RickMoffat] and Grant Needham [@GrantNeedham] with your call.

Noel Butler

Noel Butler


Noel Butler is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on TSN.ca. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/TheSoccerNoel and listen to his radio program oranges@halftime on TSN Radio 690 Montreal.

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