MONTREAL, CANADA - APRIL 28: Troy Perkins #1 of the Portland Timbers stops the ball on an attempt by Sanna Nyassi #11 of the Montreal Impact during the MLS match at the Olympic Stadium on April 28, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Impact defeated the Timber 2-0. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
It's been an up and down year for the Colorado Rapids, but at the very least we've seen a pretty good year out of them at home. (Other than the 90 minutes that comprised the first halves of the Galaxy and Sporting KC games, of course.) Before the long international break coming up, the Montreal Impact come to town, and if the Rapids are looking for a good way to end this particular stretch of games they could do worse than welcoming the Impact in, considering how dismal on the road they've been.
Looking forward to Saturday's match, I exchanged a couple of questions with Sofiane Benzaza, the managing editor of our Montreal blog Mount Royal Soccer. Naturally, I included a question about our old friend Sanna Nyassi, read on for my questions to him about the Impact and check out Mount Royal Soccer for his questions to me about the Rapids...
BW: This being Montreal's first season in the league, what were the expectations of the squad going into the season and what have they shifted into now with about 25% of the season gone?
MRS: The expectations for the team were pretty much low in the sense that the expansion team tag sort of gives you a free pass as per results. But a combination of the club's historical winning mentality, smart recruiting (head office, coaching staff and players) and current results have taken those expectations to a higher level.
The club is able to play against most team in the MLS and some disappointments were felt as many points were lost in the first quarter of the season. The positive shift started when the defensive line started to gel and become really strong and it started with ex-Serie A central defender, Matteo Ferrari.
As I write this, Marco Di Vaio has officially signed with the Montreal Impact. Let's just say that expectations just tripled in a few minutes. Keep you posted Rapids fans! :)
BW: You asked me about Bobby Burling being on trial with the Rapids and I said yes indeed, what do you know about him?
MRS: Well, Bobby Burling as initially drafted in the 2012 MLS Expansion Draft by the Montreal Impact. He seemed like an interesting player with his experience and size as the Montreal Impact was thin at that time. Since the signing of Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas, he was quickly forgotten but he was never involved in any pre-season activities with the team. There was a disagreement in a contract re-negotiation as Burling was looking for a hike in his pay. His rights are still owned by the Montreal Impact but he was released to try out with different teams as he is in trial with the Rapids as confirmed by yourself and the Reserve team of the Rapids. (thank you again)
BW: How's our old friend Sanna Nyassi doing?
MRS: Sanna Nyassi is an interesting player. I had the chance to interview him early in the season and he is very nice guy, sounds shy but is more calm/relaxed than anything else. On the field, his work ethic is unquestionable as he gives his 100% all the time, using his speed and aggressiveness to his advantage. His aggressiveness has cost him a few yellow cards so look for him in the MLS suspension list very soon for yellow card accumulation.
Fans and media are still unsure on his positioning on the field. He prefers to be a 2nd striker but seems more efficient as a winger/wide midfielder but at the end, that's to the Jesse Marsch to decide. I am happy that Sanna is with the Montreal Impact as he provides depth to the squad, speed and interesting 1-on-1 skills to create something out of nothing.
Thanks again to Mount Royal Soccer, head over there and check out their stuff on the Impact -- especially since they just signed their first ever Designated Player!