MONTREAL – The formula for soccer success is win at home, draw on the road – even the expansion Impact.
They got it wrong in the 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire last Saturday, leaving a bittersweet taste in the mouths of the Montreal players. But it certainly didn’t show during what head coach Jesse Marsch described as what might have been “our best training as a team” on Tuesday.
“I think that the guys feel confident based on how they played,” Marsch told reporters after practice. “They’re disappointed that they didn’t get three points, but I think there’s a belief and an understanding within the group that it’s coming together. Sometimes, after you feel good about things, then everybody relaxes. The key now is that if things go well or if things don’t go well, we maintain the same level of commitment to training and working every day.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Montreal 1, Chicago 1
Despite the two points dropped at the Olympic Stadium, smiles were all around at Montreal’s Centre sportif Marie-Victorin. The team’s overall performance against the Fire seems to have had a positive effect on the Impact’s morale.
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, for one, looked upbeat about what he saw in front of him on Saturday.
“My game was an easy game and I was a spectator just like you,” the Jamaican ‘keeper said. “I didn’t have a lot to do because the midfield played well, the defense played well, so I mopped up whatever they spilt. We did well. Unfortunately, we let a goal in and we wanted three points at home, but it's a work in progress and we'll get it right.”
Ricketts was not the only one who was impressed by the defense. Marsch indicated he was pleased by the organization of the backline, which did not give much away to the Fire’s lightning-fast forwards.
A big contribution to the Impact back four’s solidity was Matteo Ferrari, who stepped his game up from the 2-0 First Kick loss to Vancouver. Marsch lavished praise on the 32-year-old, who he feels is a student of the game.
“As soon as he came in, you could see that he was going to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the group as a whole and to our backline,” Marsch explained. “We ask him to do certain things a little different than he’s done in the past, but he understands why, he fits into it well and they are easy adjustments for him. ... I don’t even think we’ve seen the best of him yet.”
What Marsch and Ricketts have seen, however, is a player who adjusted to North American soccer quickly. While Ferrari admits MLS is not exactly like European football, he does not feel disoriented at all.
“Physically, it’s different,” the Italian defender recognized, “but the first two games, I didn’t see that much difference. I like it. You can play against very fast forwards and you have to be ready for that.”
At the beginning of training, Ferrari chatted with teammate Nelson Rivas, who ran lightly with the group before skipping the scrimmages. Most Montreal supporters are eagerly awaiting the debut of a Ferrari-Rivas pairing, and so is Montreal’s No. 13.
“We are waiting for him,” Ferrari said, “but he had a very important injury. He has to take his time and be patient, but I’m sure when he’s ready, he will help the team very much. ... We are different players. He’s more physical, he’s faster. I’m more of a leader, if you will, organizing the defense, talking to teammates. I think we can play together.”