Inter Miami defender Ben Sweat, left, and Montreal Impact attacker Maximiliano Urruti fight for the ball during their MLS soccer match, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

Rested Montreal Impact looking to collect points with big finish to regular season

Rested Montreal Impact looking to collect points with big finish to regular season

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact got some much-needed rest this week, but the time off wasn’t particularly exciting for coach Thierry Henry.

Asked what he did with his days off, Henry had a very short answer.

“Nothing,” he said on a video call Friday.

The coach said he spent his time at home in Montreal thinking and recovering from a packed stretch that saw the Impact (7-10-2) play nine games in four weeks.

“Recharging mentally is just as important, if not more important, than physically. It is, it is,” Henry said. “When your mind is OK, your body follows.”

Now Henry and his team have turned their minds to securing their spot in the playoffs.

Montreal currently sits in ninth place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference, where the top 10 teams will make the post-season this year.

With four games left in the regular season, the Impact need to take as many points as possible. Their next opportunity will come Saturday when they visit New York City FC.

New York is a tough team who like to play hard from the back and Montreal will need to find a way to stop that, Henry said.

Heading into Saturday’s matchup, New York sits three spots above the Impact in the standings, ahead by four points. But the team is also winless in its last three outings, having dropped a 3-1 decision to the Columbus Crew on Sunday.

Montreal, meanwhile, headed into its short reprieve on a win after taking a 2-1 victory over Inter Miami last Saturday.

Impact midfielder Bojan Krkic had a goal and an assist, a performance that earned him MLS Player of the Week honours.

The 30-year-old Spaniard has three goals and two assists this season, but questions have lingered about his play, Henry said.

“I think he has answered a lot of questions,” he said. “When he plays the way he is playing at the minute, we are a different team.”

Another Montreal piece in fine form is Romell Quioto. The Honduran forward has put up either a goal or an assist in his last six appearances, registering three goals and four assists across that stretch.

Quioto knows there’s still much work to be done, however, and that work will start in earnest Saturday against New York.

“Obviously we want to win every possible point that’s in play, every single game,” he said through a translator Friday. “But realistically we need to have a game-by-game approach in order to be successful.”

It’s been a season full of challenges for the Impact, who’ve been forced to relocate to Harrison, N.J., due to COVID-19 border restrictions and have seen a number of key players sidelined by injury.

The group has responded well, Henry said.

“The way the team is right now through adversity — again, we’re not the only team in MLS that has to go through that — but we’re trying to adapt, adjust and win ball games,” he said.

“You judge the success of someone when you encounter problems. So that’s what we’re dealing with.”


Saturday, Yankee Stadium

LOSING LASSI: Montreal announced on Monday that Lassi Lappalinen is out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in Italy. The 22-year-old Finnish midfielder had four goals and an assist in 13 appearances for the Impact this year.

SITTING OUT: New York will be missing Valentin Castellanos and Maxime Chanot on Saturday. Both players will be serving suspensions for yellow card accumulation.

CLEAN SHEETS: At least one side has been shut out in four of the last five meetings between Montreal and New York City. The only game that saw both sides score ended in a 1-1 draw on Sept. 22, 2018.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press