During the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, the Montreal Impact sat at the ninth overall selection.
After trade talks with Minnesota United fell through, the Impact chose Jeremy Kelly from the University of North Carolina. But 22 minutes later, the club acquired $75,000 in general allocation money from the Colorado Rapids for Kelly. It wasn’t their original plans, but sporting director Olivier Renard argued that the club is leaving the first two rounds of the draft satisfied.
“It’s MLS, it’s the draft, there will always be movement. We had identified six to seven players which we would have kept if they fell [at the ninth pick],” Renard said. “These players were selected before us so we contacted a few clubs to find other solutions. We had started one with Minnesota but we couldn’t find an agreement.”
According to Renard, Kelly’s selection was carefully made in order to get the most out of a trade. All in all, the club is $75,000 richer than it was at the start of the draft.
“We were aware that this player had interest from a few other clubs so we opted to pick a player that had a value,” Renard said. “He is a player with qualities but we preferred to make this deal because we have other ideas.”
Impact in talks with Tabla, Brault-Guillard, Okwonkwo
Reanrd admitted that the club is active on trying to re-acquire three young players it had on loan in 2019. Canadian internationals Zachary Brault-Guillard and Ballou Tabla are two important targets for Renard. The Belgian wants an influx of young talent in Montreal for 2020.
I think that Zachary Brault-Guillard, and Ballou [Tabla] we can put both of them in the same boat, we are in negotiations,” Renard said. “These players are welcome here and they can still do good things for the club. That said, we do not yet have agreements with their respective clubs.”
The Belgian is also keen on bringing back 2019 club MVP Orji Okwonkwo for the 2020 season. The Nigerian youth international is back at Bologna FC and Renard stressed that negotiations are tougher than they seem.
“Sometimes people think that between Bologna and Montreal; it’s the same club but I think it’s proof that it isn’t. He’s a Bologna player,” Renard said. “We’re obviously in good contact with them but there are a whole series of points that we need to work on, the league needs to approve too. But I’m also confident for Orji to return pretty quickly as well.”
Renard also added that the club is close to reaching deals with some players but MLS’ parameters are delaying certain acquisitions.
“I know that we are close to a few players, may it be between one and six players, it might even get done quickly,” Renard said. “There are things that even I have to deal with but to say that we’re 10 players away from being competitive? I don’t think so.”
CBA: Impact informed of “two-three modifications”
The current collective bargaining agreement between MLS and the MLSPA is set to end on Feb. 1. Renard told media on Thursday that he was informed of “two-three modifications” that would affect the new CBA by MLS.
“We have been discussing with the league about that but there haven’t been 100 percent decisions dropped yet,” Renard said. “They have guided us on the two-three modifications, they didn’t tell that we could communicate this so we do know internally. There won’t be a lot of changes [in the new CBA] from what I understand but there will be some and it’s up to us to adapt to these new situations.”
While he did not want to say whether he thought a work stoppage would occur, Renard said he hoped both parties would quickly come to an agreement.
“I hope not. After that, it’s between the league and the players but I think that the off-season is already very long and everyone wants to watch some games,” Renard said. “So if we delay all this, it’ll be even longer.”
The SuperDraft continues with its third and fourth rounds on Monday. The Impact have three picks in the third round.