Striker sparks Impact's offence
Commodore already has two goals. Native of Ghana is key cog for Montreal's new-look attack Impact fans have long yearned for more offence from their team, especially at home, and they could start seeing it when the club faces the Virginia Beach Mariners in its A-League home opener today at Claude Robillard Stadium. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. (CJAD Radio-800). "Playing at home, playing in front of 7,000-plus fans, we do want to attack more," first-year head coach Nick DeSantis said.
"We have a lot of ethnics in this city who know soccer and are our fans. They want to see good soccer and, while we've had winning teams, the last couple of years people have complained about our playing style -t enough goals.
"While we still plan to play tight defensively, we're going to create more scoring chances and make things more pleasant for the fans."
The Impact, which had the best defence in the league last year, but only ranked 11th among 19 teams in goals scored with 40 in 28 games (14 at home), has a new-look attack that stands to be the most potent in the A-League.
The main reason: Frederick Commodore.
Commodore, a striker who signed as a free agent on April 14, has already proven to be somewhat of a coup for the club, which is off to a 3-0 start and is expecting a crowd of more than 7,000 today. The 28-year-old native of Ghana came off the bench in his first appearance in an Impact uniform to score both goals in a 2-0 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks two weeks ago in the final game of a season-opening three-game road trip.
"The thing about Freddie is that he doesn't just take shots on goal in the hopes of scoring, he looks for goals," DeSantis said. "That's a quality of a good striker."
With the addition of Commodore - a veteran who has travelled the world playing premier-division soccer in a number of countries, including Germany and China - the Impact boasts no fewer than six legitimate goal-scoring threats.
Eduardo Sebrango set a single-season record with 18 goals in 2002 and already has scored this season after missing much of the last part of 2003 with a knee injury that required surgery.
Mauro Biello, an 11-year veteran, is the club's all-time leading scorer and already has a goal this season despite being moved from forward to midfield. Darko Kolic can also score, as can newcomers Nikola Budalic and Joel Bailey.
Budalic, a Kitchener, Ont., native, played most recently in Sweden, while Bailey, a Trinidad and Tobago native, is in his first A-League season after posting impressive offensive numbers with the Cleveland Force of the Major Indoor Soccer League.
Commodore made his A-League debut last season with the Rochester Raging Rhinos - the Impact's archrival - and showed his explosive touch by scoring three second-half goals in a 6-1 Rochester win over the Toronto Lynx last July. He finished the season with four goals and an assist on a team stacked with offence and led by MVP Doug Miller's team-high 17 goals.
Nonetheless, Commodore always posed a considerable threat and had a helping hand as Rochester sent the Impact, the Northeast Division regular-season champions, packing in the first round of the playoffs.
Commodore now would like to call Montreal home for the rest of his career.
"I've done a lot of travelling," he said. "I don't want to do any more. I like it here. I like my teammates and the coaches. Whatever I can do to help this team, I'm prepared to do."
Commodore started his career in Ghana in 1990, playing with the Saints Star Colts Club until 1993. He then moved to Accra Heart of Oak, where he helped the team win the United Nations Cup, until 1996. He went to Germany for four years, playing with the Bundesliga's VfR Mannheim and Alemannia Aachen. That was followed by a season in China with Vanguard Huando, where he finished second in league scoring. He also played in Saudi Arabia before landing with Portugal's Deportivo Chavez in 2002.
"The level of play in Germany and China is higher than in the A-League," Commodore said. "It's a faster game. What experiences over there taught me is that, as a player, you have to give your best to the team all the time. You try to raise the level of play of the players around you. That's what I want to do here."
Commodore wasn't eligible to play the first two games this season while awaiting approval of his international transfer certificate from the Canadian Soccer Association.
"Not only was his performance in (the game in Atlanta) unbelievable, but his attitude throughout the time he waited for his ITC was great," DeSantis said. "He came, saw the number of forwards we had in training camp, and had to be asking: 'Am I even going to get my chance to play?'
"He finally got his chance and he showed his experience, scoring two important goals in that game.
"Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in this game," DeSantis added. "It's only normal that you can't score every game. But with Freddie, and certainly with the other guys we've got out there, we have a lot of options offensively. It's good for a coach to have options.
"The fact we've scored five goals from four different players so far is an indication of what we're capable of doing this season. And playing at home, we want to let teams know that anybody who comes in here is not only going to face a strong defensive team, but one with a strong offence as well."