Montreal Impact eager to return to winning ways against N.Y. Red Bulls

Montreal Impact eager to return to winning ways against N.Y. Red Bulls

MONTREAL — An unusual, gruelling season is beginning to take its toll on the Montreal Impact.

The club will play its sixth game in less than a month on Sunday when the Impact kick off against the New York Red Bulls. Between a condensed schedule and the inability to play in Montreal due to COVID-19 border restrictions, conditions are tough, said Impact coach Thierry Henry.

“Guys are physically tired, mentally too, in a way. Because when you cannot go back home to decompress, it’s very difficult,” he said Friday in Harrison, N.J., where the team will be finishing out the Major League Soccer season.

“But it is what it is. You just have to try to find the right adjustments and deal with what we’re dealing with at the minute.”

The Impact (5-7-1) are dealing with a three-game losing skid after dropping a 3-1 decision to the New England Revolution on Wednesday.

Henry said his players were tired and at times “physically dead” in Foxborough, Mass., and didn’t control the game the way they normally do.

Montreal midfielder Victor Wanyama admitted that the intense schedule has left him feeling tired.

“But when I go to the pitch, I don’t have excuses. I try to do my job how I can do it. I cannot complain,” said the Kenyan international.

On off days, Wanyama said he’s doing as little as possible to conserve his body for games. He spends a lot of time in ice baths and getting massage treatment, but has also become well-acquainted with his hotel room.

“I don’t do much,” he said. ”I just sleep a lot. I move when they need me. The rest of the day, I just stay in bed and sleep.”

Injuries have magnified a tough situation for the Impact, shortening the bench.

Midfielder Saphir Taider missed the mid-week game after hurting his thigh in training on Tuesday, and Orji Okwonkwo went down with a hamstring injury in the first half of Wednesday’s matchup.

Taider’s injury is now day-to-day and he may be available for Sunday’s outing. The Algerian international has been a key offensive piece this season, tallying six assists and four goals in 11 games.

Montreal’s leading goal scorer, Romell Quioto, could also be in the lineup this weekend after serving a red-card suspension and nursing an adductor strain.

While the potential returns are good news, Henry acknowledged that setting the starting 11 has come with challenges this season.

“I just need to make sure that I put the best team out there in terms of what we have at the minute, guys that have heavy legs. … It is not easy,” he said.

Guys who haven’t seen action in awhile could be called on to play any time, Henry added.

“It’s on us to prepare them when we have to prepare them and on them to perform when they have to perform.”

MONTREAL IMPACT (5-7-1) AT NEW YORK RED BULLS (5-6-2)

Sunday, Red Bull Arena

DIOP’S STOPS: Montreal goalkeeper Clement Diop has been thoroughly tested this season. The 26-year-old Frenchman has started all 13 games for the Impact, facing 73 shots, making 50 saves and earning three clean sheets.

LOOKING BACK: The Impact have won their last three meetings with the Red Bulls., but New York has outscored them 29-10 at Red Bull Arena.

BIG GOALS: Midfielder Daniel Royer leads the Red Bulls in goals with three. He has 49 across all competitions in his five seasons with the club.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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