[MLS SPOTLIGHT: Montreal firing] Montreal has dismissed head coach Jesse Marsch, effective immediately, the club announced Saturday morning.
Marsch attended a press conference along with presidentJoey Saputo and sporting director Nick de Santis. The announcement came two days after the club released details of a trip to Italy without mention of Marsch.
Now we know why. As to why the change has been made, a source with ties to several Impact players said Marsch and defender Alessandro Nesta weren’t getting along and problems had surfaced more than a month ago. Rifts with other foreign players have been suspected: the team’s strong Italian influence – it has three players from that country and another, Colombian defender Nelson Rivas, came to MLS with Serie A experience –- in its ownership and management has influenced its beliefs as the season unfolded.
Those rumored rifts were not discussed at the press conference.
“I'm leaving the club by mutual agreement,” Marsch said. “It's not easy with the relationships that we've built, but for me it's the right decision. Although we have the same goals, we did not share the same philosophy.”
Said Saputo, “This is an amicable parting of ways, for the better of the club. While we had the same long-term objective for this organization, we realized we did not share the same view on how to get there.”
The Impact finished with a 12-16-6 record in its first MLS campaign. It placed seventh of the 10 teams in the Eastern Conference and 12th of 19 teams overall, and won more games than Canadian rivals Vancouver, which qualified for the playoffs as Western Conference fifth-place finisher, and Toronto FC, last in the Eastern Conference and overall MLS standings.
“Long term was it going to work?,” said Saputo of the team’s prospects going forward with Marsch in charge. “Were we going to be happy? Was Jesse going to be happy? Was the club going to suffer? The decision wasn't based on whether we were in the playoffs or not.”
The team -- which includes four assistant coaches who have been retained for the time being -- departs Monday for a 12-day trip to Italy, where it will play Bologna – one of forward Marco Di Vaio’s former teams – and Fiorentina.
“The players are very pleased about this tour,” Di Vaio, who counts four seasons with Bologna among his stops while playing 342 first-team games in Italy, told mlssoccer.com. “It’s a good way for the team to develop more chemistry, especially playing two games against two prestigious Serie A clubs.”