MLS: Sophomore Kyle Fisher shows promise despite Impact’s defensive struggles

MLS: Sophomore Kyle Fisher shows promise despite Impact’s defensive struggles

Montreal Impact defender Kyle Fisher hangs on to Vancouver Whitecaps forward Fredy Montero as they battle for the ball during second half MLS action Saturday, April 29, 2017 in Montreal. Injuries to Victor Cabrera and Hassoun Camara gave Fisher his chance to play and the Montreal Impact’s first round draft pick in 2016 has made the most of it. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson.

MONTREAL — Kyle Fisher is doing his best to make decisions tougher for Montreal Impact coach Mauro Biello.

Injuries to Victor Cabrera (ankle) and Hassoun Camara (concussion) gave the 22-year-old a chance to show what he can do as a starter in the central defence alongside veteran Laurent Ciman and he has shown promise on a team struggling to keep to ball out of its net.

“He’s been good and that’s good for the team,” assistant coach Wilfried Nancy said Wednesday.”We have a lot of centre backs and the aim is to have competition between players.

“He waited for his time to play and he did a good job. That’s what we expected from him. We’ll see, but for the moment, it’s good for him.”

Fisher, who had two starts and only 180 minutes of playing time as a rookie last season, has started the Impact’s last three games, including the team’s only shutout two week ago at D.C. United.

But the Impact (2-4-4), who are 11th and last in the MLS Eastern Conference, responded to that victory with a disappointing 3-2 loss at home Saturday to the Columbus Crew. They went down 2-0 only to roar back to tie it in the second half, but then conceded a goal in added time on a Columbus counterattack. It left them 1-2-1 at home this season.

That had them in a sour mood in training this week for a home game Saturday against Portland.

“It’s getting chippy in training because we have to get back on track,” said Fisher. “We don’t have unlimited time.

“We’re understanding that as the season goes on.”

The coaches will have a decision to make this week because the veteran Camara is ready to return. Whether Fisher stays in the starting 11 or not, he has at least shown that he is a viable option in the defence.

“It’s something I’ve been working toward for a while now,” said Fisher, a native of Easley, S.C. “It’s something you have to visualize even when you’re not getting the opportunity, like last year — that you get your chance and make the most of it.

“I’m trying to take the ball and run with it.”

The Impact selected the former Clemson Tiger 14th overall in 2016. He had been ACC defensive player of the year the previous season.

“I knew when I got drafted I felt MLS ready,” he said. “I just needed an opportunity in this league.

“You have to take your time and be patient. The guys who stay persistent in training and continue to work hard even when their name’s not getting called are the guys that stay in the league longer. I waited for that opportunity hoping the work I’ve done in the past has prepared me well for what’s to come.”

A bonus is to work beside Ciman, the former Standard Liege stalwart who is a regular with Belgium’s national squad.

Like the rest of the Impact, Ciman was not happy with the points the club has let slip away with sloppy play this season. They have lost their last two home games and are searching for a way to maintain a high level of play through an entire game.

Too often, they seem to sleep through a half and then pour on the energy to catch up.

“I think we’ll start panicking, yes, in the sense that when we start to panic we’re better,” said Ciman. “We shouldn’t have to wait till we give up two goals to react and be better.

“It’s complicated and frustrating right now for sure. Every time we make an individual error we pay for it. I understand the critics and the people who are disappointed but we need to stay together and get out of this bad stretch. For now, it’s not going our way but we have to stay together and keep working hard.”

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press


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