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Impact parts ways with Ech Chergui, Pelletier

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Richard Pelletier
At the start of the 2011 NASL season, the Montreal Impact had six French players on its roster, Now, that number is down to three.

The Impact announced Wednesday what has been speculated about for the last week; that French attacker Idriss Ech Chergui and defender Richard Pelletier wouldn’t be back with the team.

Pelletier’s contract expired on Canada Day and won’t be renewed. Ech Chergui is free to explore his options when the transfer window opens on July 15.

They join Kevin Hatchi, who was cut loose last month, on the discard pile as the Impact tries to pull itself out of its nosedive. The club sits second-last in the NASL standings. It will move to MLS next season.

“Idriss had some difficulties adjusting to the style of our league. He didn’t really have a future with this club and wanted to see if new opportunities would open up for him in Europe,” said Impact sporting director and acting head coach Nick De Santis in a release issued by the club. “As for Pelletier, it’s unfortunate because we didn’t really have a genuine opportunity to evaluate him as he didn’t play much. We hope that both players will find new contracts elsewhere.”

Pelletier signed late last season but was hampered by injury. He served a six-game suspension in to start the season stemming from violent conduct from the 2010 USSF-2 playoffs.

Ech Chergui, like Hatchi, was signed at the start of the season. He scored twice.

Philippe Billy, Hassoun Camara, and Anthony Le Gall are the French players who remain on the roster. Mignane Diouf, a Senegalese forward, is also with the club on loan. As a French-speaking international, Diouf is often grouped together with the other French imports.

But as the club struggles and it searches for new blood — likely from foreign sources — it will need to open foreign roster slots. Diouf has been effective at times this season and Billy is the best of the French players. Le Gall simply hasn’t been scoring, which a striker needs to do, and Camara has struggled for the Impact during the first half of the season.

Montreal took a massive gamble in 2010, opening the door to a flood of French imports that took jobs away from the Canadian and American players who had brought the club so much success at the Div. 2 level. Now, halfway through the 2011 campaign, this team needs to look at a full rebuild. And, in any club, it’s hard to repair bridges when local talent is sacrificed to make way for ineffective foreigners.

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