Marsch expects to shift Impact's shape for Houston test

MONTREAL – He might be fighting a virus, but Felipe should be fit enough for the tactical switch Montreal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch has in mind for this Saturday’s road game against the Houston Dynamo (8:30 pm ET, streamed LIVE online).

With Impact regular Collen Warner suspended through yellow-card accumulation, Felipe is expected to drop deeper into midfield as Marsch moves to a 4-4-2 built around the Felipe-Patrice Bernier central midfield combination seen earlier this season.

In the absence of Warner, who regularly makes the most ball recoveries over 90 minutes for Montreal, increased responsibilities await the Impact’s top two assist providers in the defensive phase. But Marsch will strive to make both players feel as comfortable as possible as they visit BBVA Compass Stadium, one of MLS’ most hostile environments.

“We feel good about the relationship of Collen, Patrice and Felipe, how that's gone and how that relates with the guys in front of them,” Marsch told reporters. “But we also know that at different moments, everything from tilting Felipe to one side to finding out ways to still use our pieces, that [we] must not change what we ask of them that much.”

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Had Marsch decided to maintain his 4-2-3-1 formation, defender – and natural defensive midfielder – Hassoun Camara theoretically would have fit into the spot vacated by Warner. However, the way Marsch has used him this season, as well as the season-ending injury Nelson Rivas recently sustained, mean that Camara will remain at the back.

Felipe and Bernier will therefore be asked to patrol the central midfield aream with the help of Sanna Nyassi and Davy Arnaud tucking in from their wide positions.

“We’re always trying to just tweak things a little bit so that we still get the structure that we want in terms of how we defend and how we move, and we also give guys the ability to make plays with the ball,” Marsch said. “It’s always about trying to figure out that balance.”