Home MLS Montreal Impact Schallibaum: Impact needs to excel after the 70-minute mark

Schallibaum: Impact needs to excel after the 70-minute mark

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The Montreal Impact wrapped up its second week of preseason this afternoon with a 90-minute workout culminating in a short scrimmage. The team leaves for Orlando to take part in the Walt Disney Tournament next Thursday with a roster that features more new tattoos than fresh faces on the pitch but with every intention of being a much-improved squad.

“I think we’re a little bit more established this year,” said defender Jeb Brovsky, sidelined with a minor middle-body injury. “It’s difficult with an expansion team to throw 30 guys together and, by March, have a game plan but this year we’re going forward as one unit. I think all the guys are buying into (coach Marco Schallibaum) Marco’s system and we’re very focussed on learning from last year’s mistakes and moving forward.”

The Impact may well begin the 2013 schedule with more changes on the sidelines than on the pitch with Schallibaum’s arrival signalling a change in orientation towards a more European approach.

“Sometimes I get the impression I’m at Marseille when we do the drills that we’ve been doing. We’re working on both fitness and technique. We aren’t just running for no reason. We are doing fitness work but we incorporate the ball into the drills,” offered Hassoun Camara. “Everything has a purpose that is linked to what we’re going to do on the pitch on Saturdays. I’m comfortable in this type of system. It’s very similar to the way I learned the game and trained in the past.”

Last year’s squad went heavy on roadwork in its run up to First Kick. This year’s approach is a little more varied, with Schallibaum using basketball and handball as part of his preseason routine so far. He has also eased off on the laps and emphasised pace and intensity in his drills without neglecting the endurance aspects of training.

“I think it’s been a great balance, especially with Paolo (Pacione) coming in as fitness coach,” said Brovsky, who has dropped one digit from last year’s number and will wear No. 5 from here on in. “I think they’re on the same page. We’re more focussed on work with the ball and a lot of interval training which is going to be great down the stretch, in the 80th or 90th minute. I think you’re going to find that we’ll be among the fittest teams in the league.

“He’s a very tough guy but he’s also aware of how every individual is doing,” Brovsky continued. “He’s got a good broad sense of how the team is doing but if he sees an individual who may need some extra training or extra coaching he’ll pull them aside. He’s a very friendly guy off the pitch and I think he connects well with everyone on the team.

“We want to keep the ball. Last year we gave up the ball too often in the middle and in our own end and that’s something we want to mitigate,” said the Colorado native when asked what tangible improvements Impact fans could expect from their 2013 side.

“Marco’s seen all our games and he has a good sense of where we are as a team. I think that just changing the philosophy a little bit we’re going to be a very technical team but we’re not going to be afraid to work as well. That’s what MLS demands and we’re going to have to step up to the Houstons and the other powers in the league.”
Queried about the differences in approach compared to last season Brovsky noted that a lot more happened with the ball involved than last time out.

“If we’re doing fitness, if we’re doing work, it’s always with the ball and doing intervals so you rest a little bit and you train a little bit. I think last year our base was long distance running and getting more fit but, this year, I think it’s really short intervals and a very fast pace but everything has to be of quality and I think that’s one thing that they’re demanding this year is that every little detail has to be quality and I think that’s going to be the difference maker this year.”

Camara has played both at midfield and on the back line since joining the NASL Impact in 2011. He echoed the sentiments expressed by his teammate.

“We’re working hard and adapting to the coach’s expectations. His orientation is clear, fast pace and a lot of intensity in the group. I think we have the players to do it. Physically, I feel good and I’m confident I can meet his expectations,” he said. “Our present coach puts the emphasis on high intensity and repetition. I think all he wants is very fast pace. We’ve been told to be very quick and reactive.

“I think we have a nice amalgam of American players who are very strong technically, South Americans like Felipe who have the same touch and philosophy and we Europeans who bring what we have learned to the table as well. The coach seems to think along those lines and I think it can only be beneficial for the season. It’s not perfect yet since it’s preseason,” he continued. ”But we’re improving and I think that if we keep at it we’ll be able to show well on Saturdays. I think we can unsettle a lot of teams with our ‘European’ game but we have to remember that it is an American league and one that has a definite physical character. Within that context we do want to play a technical game and still be as effective as possible, a la Barcelonaise. “

“It was the first time we used a full pitch and it went pretty well,” said Schallibaum when asked for his impressions of this morning’s workout.

“We can’t forget that games are often decided after the 70-minute mark,” he continued. “I saw some good things out there today but also a few not so good, perhaps because of fatigue, but we still have time to work on them.”

Commenting on the fitness level of his charges, the head coach gave a very brief overview of activity so far.

“We did mostly endurance work in the first week and then worked on legs. Now we move onto another chapter with the trip to Orlando. We’ll continue to work on endurance but we’ll also do tactical exercises. We move into another dimension with the games we’ll be playing as well. You can do a lot in training but to reach peak fitness and play at pace, you need game action.”

Smith settles in

“I was told to say, ‘j’aime les québécoises,” quipped Blake Smith as an opener. The Texan has not yet sampled poutine. Upon being informed as to the ingredients that go into it, Montreal’s first pick in this winter’s SuperDraft did not betray any eagerness to sample the local comfort food.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he replied when asked for his impressions of his first taste of pro soccer.

“The first week was mostly just getting used to the routine and speed of play. This week I was able to kind of settle down and get my confidence. This week was much better, I think, for all the rookies. It’s a new experience and it’s been exciting so far,” he continued.

The youngster, who garnished the only applause from the small crowd of spectators on hand when he niftily flipped the ball forward over his shoulder and broke down the right side of the pitch in the closing scrimmage, is also pleased with his initial interactions with coach Schallibaum.

“At this point I think he’s been a great coach. He’s very encouraging to me but he’s also very demanding. He expects a lot out of his players and he wants all his players to do the best that they can and he’ll do whatever it takes to get the best out of you each session and I think that’s important here at this level. I have no complaints. I really like his coaching style so far.”

“I’m excited to get out there,” he enthused. “I’m sure the whole team is too, to get out there and play some games. It’s fun playing against each other but after a while scrimmaging with your own team gets kind of old so it’ll be nice to see the team against an opponent and see how we match up.”

Smith has noticed that it is a big step up from the college ranks to the professional game.

“Everybody is at their best every day. In college you sometimes have players who are a little inconsistent day by day,’ he said. “But out here you have to do the best you can every day and there’s no one having off-days. It’s very consistent; the intensity level stays high throughout the entire session. Everyone’s pushing everyone and that’s how you get better.”

The Impact will probably work out at their Montreal-North training facility early in the week before heading south on Thursday to participate in the Walt Disney World Pro Classic. They play Sporting KC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Philadelphia Union and DC United before returning to Montreal on Feb. 24.

 

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