MONTREAL – Five games played, yet only four losses and a draw? It’s not a problem for the Montreal Impact’s morale ahead of this Saturday’s inaugural MLS derby against fierce rivals Toronto FC (noon ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in US).
Despite some more than acceptable performances, most notably in a 1-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake and the first half of a 5-2 drubbing by the New York Red Bulls, results have not gone the team’s way so far this season. A severe lack of confidence in Montreal’s locker room could be understandable, but head coach Jesse Marsch has managed to take some pressure of his protégés.
Questioning Toronto's chances because of their demanding journey to Mexico, however, is not permitted.
“We’ve talked about Toronto in terms of what to expect of them as a team,” Marsch told reporters following training on Friday. “We’re not going to allow ourselves to think that, after coming out of a tough game, the travel. … We’re going to prepare ourselves to play in a really tough and important game. It’s not about Toronto, it’s about us.”
On Saturday, the Impact will catch up with their supporters for only the second time this season, a situation that pleases no one in the team. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, for example, had a tough time over the last three games, notably having to step forward for no less than three penalty kicks – which all found the back of the net.
Like his teammates, the Jamaican international is has embraced a positive outlook, though, and reckons there’s nowhere to go but up.
“We’ve played four games on the road, one game at home, and sometimes it’s tough on the road,” Ricketts said. “We’re new, we’re learning lessons and we’re continuing to grow and to learn. It’s a game; you win some, you lose some. Unfortunately, we lost quite a few early in the season, but in this league, the earlier part doesn’t really matter sometimes. It’s about how you finish, not how you start.”
The Impact will also be hoping Lady Luck is be on their side against Toronto, as they felt quite hard done by in midweek after conceding yet another clear cut, yet somewhat unfortunate, penalty. But, says captain Davy Arnaud, luck is not merely an ingredient which can be conjured from thin air, but a byproduct of effort on the field.
“[Luck] seems to even itself out over the course of the season,” Arnaud said. “Regardless of that stuff, we have to stay the course and continue doing things the right way. When you perform well, the luck turns and it comes your way. We’ll be rewarded for it eventually.”
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