A look at what to expect from the Impact in the Union's third preseason matchup

If you want to make a completely unwarranted blanket statement after two exhibition games, you could go ahead and say that Montreal looks like a contender 2013.

With experienced Swiss manager Marco Schällibaum taking over, the Impact are off to a 2-0 start this preseason, scoring six goals and conceding just two.

They look more like a well-oiled machine and less like an expansion franchise.

Both Philadelphia and Montreal are taking part in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, but Friday's game in Jacksonville is not a part of the tournament. Instead, this is a separate friendly match at Everbank Field, the home of the NFL's Jaguars.

Under the leadership of chairman Joey Saputo and sporting director Nick De Santis, the Impact made high profile European moves to complement a North American contingent that includes Justin Mapp, Davy Arnaud, Collen Warner, and Andrew Wenger. They brought in Italian veterans Marco Di Vaio, Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari, and Bernardo Corradi. They brought standout midfielder Patrice Bernier home from Denmark and signed South Americans Felipe and Nelson Rivas. They fired manager Jesse Marsch after just one year in charge.

Whether you agree with the Impact philosophy or not, you can't deny the amount of talent on the team.

Montreal didn't make a lot of offseason moves, and they didn't really have to.

Bologna winger Andrea Pisanu joined the fold following an impromptu post-season tour of Italy. Forward Andres Romero moved to Montreal on loan from Brazilian side Tombense.

The Impact went for New Mexico midfielder Blake Smith with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. A second midfielder, Fernando Monge, was selected with the 18th pick.

Offseason Departures

F – Bernardo Corradi (unattached)

M – Lamar Neagle (Seattle Sounders)

M – Evan James (trialist with Vancouver Whitecaps)

D – Shavar Thomas (trialist with D.C. United)

D – Josh Gardner (Sporting Kansas City)

GK – Greg Sutton (retired)

New Faces

Andrea Pisanu, M – A 31-year-old Italian veteran, Pisanu joins on a year long loan from Bologna. He spent last season on loan to second division side Prato, scoring 11 goals in 23 matches. He's a forward/winger type who can play wide or centrally behind the strikers.

Andres Romero, F – A five-foot-nine forward/winger from Argentina. Romero joins on loan from Tombense, which is part of the second division in Brazilian state league "Campeonato Mineiro". He was part of the youth ranks at Argentinos Juniors and played for the senior club for a number of years.

Blake Smith, MF – Not yet signed, Smith was the Impact's first draft pick. He's a left sided player who tallied 13 assists in 2012, which was the second highest total in the NCAA.

Fernando Monge, MF – Also unsigned, Monge was picked up later in the first round. He's a product of UCLA and the Seattle U-23 team. A central midfielder, he'll learn from Bernier and Warner if he earns a contract this year.

Standout Players

Patrice Bernier, MF – The cog in the Montreal midfield. Bernier came on strong just before the All-Star break and finished 2012 with nine goals and eight assists. He played most of the season as a two-way midfielder next to Collen Warner.

Alessandro Nesta, D – Trophies: World Cup (1), Champion's League (2), Serie A (3), Coppa Italia (3), etc. You'd need a whole page to list the honors Nesta has achieved in his career. Now 36 years old, the only issue is just how long he can continue to play at the highest level.

Marco Di Vaio, F – It took Di Vaio some time to get off the mark last season, but the Italian vet looks to have settled in. He only scored five goals last year, but he's got three goals already in this preseason. Di Vaio could easily score 12-15 goals this year with consistent service from the midfield.

Felipe, M/F – Montreal's Brazilian forward is the creative presence behind Di Vaio. He started 30 games last year, scoring four goals and leading Montreal with 10 assists.

Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com

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