The Departure of Nigel Reo-Coker : A logical move for the Montreal Impact

Nov 8, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC defender Michael Parkhurst (4) knocks the ball away from Montreal Impact midfielder/defender Nigel Reo-Coker (14) during the MLS Playoffs at Mapfre Stadium. Crew SC won the series 4-3 on aggregate. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports.

The departure of the 31 year old English-Sierra Leone player Nigel Reo-Coker was officially announced on January 22nd by the Montreal Impact through their twitter account (@impactmontreal). His agent declared “Nigel has thoroughly enjoyed his time in America, but talks are ongoing and we will see what the coming weeks hold.”

It is rumoured that the EPL veteran might play again for a premier league team, perhaps Aston Villa but I honestly think he does not have what it physically and technically takes to play again at that level.

Having started his youth career at Wimbledon from 1997-2002, the Premier League veteran has played for West Ham United (2004-07), Aston Villa (2007-11), Bolton Wanderers (2011-12), Ipswitch Town (2012-13) before making the move to the Major League Soccer on February 21st 2013 playing 44 games for the Vancouver Whitecaps. He then went on to play 9 games for the now extinct club Chivas USA and finally was selected by the Montreal Impact on December 10th 2014, in the MLS Waiver Draft playing a total of 28 games for le ‘’Bleu-Blanc-Noir’’.

Just not good enough

No one can deny that Reo-Coker is a very experienced player having played over 200 games at the highest level in the EPL, the most competitive league in the world in my opinion. On the other hand, the level of his game has considerably been on the downfall since he left the Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League for the Championship side Ipswitch Town, making a meager 12 appearances in a year. The following year, he then showed a strong desire to play with heart once again with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Fast-forward to December 2014, Reo-Coker joins the Montreal Impact after being drafted in the MLS Waiver Draft. Being Frank Klopas’  preferred choice over Patrice Bernier in the midfield , his first 16 games with the club were absolutely disastrous. Slow, imprecise in his passing game, loosing the ball a lot and making very poor decisions, it was a big frustration for the Montreal Impact fans to see a coach trust his ‘’leadership’’ in the locker room rather than looking at his actual level of performance on the pitch.

Due to unfortunate injuries in the Montreal back line and a lack of available options, Klopas decided to move Reo-Coker to a right back position during the CONCACAF Champions League, a position in which the Englishman either had a terrible performance or sometimes surprised everyone by defending very well.

Furthermore, another questionable decision by Klopas was to give the Captain’s armband to the Englishman. I understand that Reo-Coker’s motivational speeches in the locker room could have had value in the eyes of Klopas but in my opinion, to gain respect from your teammates, you need to be a leader on and off the pitch.

I think a lot of people with football knowledge can come to the conclusion that he simply was not delivering enough quality football on the pitch. My thoughts are that Patrice Bernier would have been a much wiser choice last season in the midfield for Montreal. Yes, he did slow down over the years but he unquestionably always delivered 110% pure quality on the pitch and it was fair from the fans to voice their concern when he was benched most of the season & symbolically stripped away from his Captain armband for no specific reason.

Now let’s get to why Nigel’s departure is a good thing for the Montreal Impact. Financially speaking, this will free up a $275K which is considered to be significant salary in the MLS. Other than the financial aspect, we simply need quality players on the pitch to be able to lift trophies and win titles in Montreal.

Renewal of the guard

It is no surprise to me to see some fresh young talent arriving at the Montreal Impact coinciding with the departure of Reo-Coker. It was officially announced that 21-year old Argentine offensive midfielder Lucas Ontivero has signed with the club. He is coming on loan from Turkish giants Galatasaray while also growing through the youth systems of San Lorenzo and Real Madrid’s Castilla.

I would not be surprised to also see young Panamean midfielder Pedro Jeanine sign with the club as well to reinforce the midfield, following the departures of Justin Mapp, Dilly Duka and Reo-Coker. Currently a trialist with the club, the 22 year old will take part in the pre-season training camp with the Montreal Impact in Florida.

It is absolutely magnificent to see the Montreal Impact aligning their recruiting strategy with the other MLS clubs , strongly believing in young talent from across the globe. This will not only put the league on the map but will keep it growing stronger season after season.

I’m really looking forward to see what the future holds as the MLS is bringing all these young talented players in a league that is trying to shift its image from a retirement league to a world renowned football league (Giovinco, Dos Santos, Ontivero etc..)

More good news this week, the Didier Drogba saga has come to an end. The Ivorian legend has confirmed on his twitter account that he is indeed coming back to play for the Montreal Impact and is heading today to Qatar to start a pre-season preparation. He then will join the club for the second part of training camp,which will take place also take place in Florida, from February 15th to 28th.

Cet article a été rédigé par Fadel Lahlou.

Bio de Fadel: Electronic Music producer (Get Phyiscal Music // Toolroom Records) – Soccer Analyst & Outside-of-the-box Geek. Visitez sa page SoundCloud.

Suivez-le sur twitter: @FadelMusic