Montreal Impact: Bojan the missing playoff piece?

Stoke City's Bojan Krkic Stoke City v Rotherham United - SkyBet Championship - bet365 Stadium 13-04-2019 . (Photo by Dave Thompson/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)
Stoke City's Bojan Krkic Stoke City v Rotherham United - SkyBet Championship - bet365 Stadium 13-04-2019 . (Photo by Dave Thompson/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images) /

The Montreal Impact signed Bojan Krkic through the 2020 season earlier this week. Could the former Barcelona star be the missing playoff piece the Impact have incessantly been searching for?

The Montreal Impact failed to qualify for the MLS playoffs in each of the last two seasons. And this season, while largely occupying an Eastern playoff spot, they are now staring down the possibility of slipping out of the top seven once more.

The Impact currently sit in sixth position. However, should both New England and Toronto win their game-in-hand on the Canadians, they will fall into eighth and below the playoff line. And this is purely based on the results. The performances have been far less convincing.

In fact, ask most Montreal Impact fans how they feel the team has fared this season, and you will not find many happy ones. The football has been slow and lethargic, they have conceded the second-most goals in the Eastern Conference, and have been missing star player, Igancio Piatti for much of the year. Their goal difference is -10 — goal difference is a much more accurate barometer of how good a team actually is than points earned.

Nevertheless, with Piatti now back in the fold and just nine games of the regular season remaining, the Impact are still within touching distance of a playoff berth. And given their undoubted quality on their day, anything can happen once you make the postseason.

And so, a little injection in the transfer window is required for Remi Garde’s side to explode up the table and potentially into contention — they are, oddly, still only six points out of second place. That is where Bojan Krkic enters the fray. The Spanish attacker signed a contract through the 2020 season with Target Allocation Money this week after he left Stoke City. Garde, when asked about the move, highlighted the crucial ‘final stretch of the season’:

"“Bojan is a very talented player who, at 28 years old, chose the Impact to pursue his career, after having played for some of the biggest clubs in the world. His offensive ability to get others involved in the game and to score goals will be of precious help for the final stretch of the season. I welcome him to our club.”"

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Bojan struggled to deal with the weight of expectation throughout his career. He was utterly prolific in Barcelona’s academy and was compared to Lionel Messi in his early years. However, through injuries, a crisis of confidence, and poor form, he slowly slipped down the football triangle, so much so that he scored just one goal in 735 minutes of action in the English second tier last season. For a player of his talent, it is a dramatic and deplorable fall from grace.

Nevertheless, in MLS, where there is a little more space in the final third and the defenders lack the nous and know-how of the elite European game, Bojan may flourish once more. An extremely diminutive and slippery attacker, he can slide away from challenges, create chances with incisive passing, and knows how to score goals. Alongside Piatti, one of the best attackers in MLS history, the Spaniard could truly flourish and perhaps accelerate Montreal in their quest for playoff qualification.

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The East is intensely tight and these final few matches will be tremendously competitive. The playoff positions will be decided in the small margins, and in Bojan, the Montreal Impact may just have someone who can master them.