Impact have signing in sight, but not in time for home opener vs TFC


Montreal Impact's Michael Petrasso and Vancouver Whitecaps' Alphonso Davies vie for the ball during the first half in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday March 4, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact are searching for reinforcements after dropping their first two games of the Major League Soccer season, but no help is expected in time for their showdown Saturday with rival Toronto FC.

The Impact are reportedly close to deals for Uruguayan midfielder Alejandro Silva and French central defender Rudy Camacho. So far, no announcements have been made. It is likely that transfer fees or other money matters are still to be settled.

"Of course I expect and I hope, but sometimes despite the progress we made, the conclusion is not there," coach Remi Garde said when asked about Silva and Camacho on Thursday. "Even though I would like us to strengthen the team, we are not ready to do stupid things.

"Let’s wait, but hopefully we’ll have great news soon."

Garde made sweeping changes when he replaced Mauro Biello as coach in December, but while the former Lyon boss was quick to dispatch players he didn’t want, finding replacements has been a struggle.

It didn’t help that his top signing, French defender Zakaria Diallo, ruptured an Achilles tendon a few days before the season opener and that striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel tore a hamstring in training camp.

The Impact opened the season with losses of 2-1 in Vancouver and 3-2 in Columbus–both times falling behind 2-0 before putting up impressive fights in the second half.

They hope for a better result in their home opener Saturday afternoon at Olympic Stadium against defending champion Toronto, who may be weary from their CONCACAF Champions League victory this week over Tigres in Mexico.

Camacho and Silva could fill gaping holes in the Montreal roster.

The website of Camacho’s Belgian club Waasland Beveren said the six-foot-one defender has an agreement with Montreal, but the two teams have yet to settle.

With the off-season trade of Laurent Ciman to expansion Los Angeles FC and with Diallo’s injury, their only healthy centreback is Victor Cabrera. Left back Jukka Raitala has been filling in, but he lost position on his man and committed a foul that gave up an early penalty in Columbus.

Silva, now playing for Lanus in Argentina, is a right-side midfielder. Canadian Raheem Edwards struggled against Vancouver in that spot, but then came off the bench in place of Chilean Jeisson Vargas and scored on an impressive volley against Columbus.

There are reports that Silva has agreed to a three-year contract with the Impact but again, a deal with Lanus is needed.

"He’s a good player," the Impact’s Argentine star Ignacio Piatti said of Silva. "I’ve seen him in Argentina.

"He’s a technical player. If he comes that would be very important."

Garde said ex-Marseille central defender Rod Fanni, a 36-year-old who signed for three months last week, will be available for the TFC game but may not be ready to play.

There was concern this week when Matteo Mancosu missed a day of practice, but Garde said it was precautionary and the team’s only healthy striker should be fine. He said Jackson-Hamel was ahead of schedule in his recovery and should return to training soon.

The Impact will use the home opener of their 25th season to unveil a Wall of Fame at Saputo Stadium. The first two inductees will be defence stalwarts from its pre-MLS days — Nevio Pizzolitto and Gabriel Gervais. The club played in the APSL, the A-League, the USL First Division and the NASL before joining MLS in 2012.

The Wall of Fame is to honour top players who joined the club at least 15 years previously, who have been retired for at least five years and who played at least 100 games for the club. Names will be added each year.

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