MONTREAL – A new-look Montreal Impact taking the field at Livestrong Sporting Park? It is a very strong possibility.
Nine players started both of the Impact’s last games – a 2-0 win against Portland last Saturday and a midweek 0-0 draw against Toronto FC in the Amway Canadian Championship – and it appears head coach Jesse Marsch is planning on resting many of them when Montreal face Sporting Kansas City (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) on Saturday.
“We’re still evaluating where some of the guys who played [Wednesday] are at, but we’re going to have a lot of new faces, for sure,” Marsch told reporters on Thursday. “But we still feel that we’re going to put a very good team on the field and go for a result.”
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No matter who ultimately steps onto the pitch in Kansas City, though, Marsch expects a tough game against a physically gifted team, arguably finest in MLS at the moment. Thus far this season, Peter Vermes’ protégés have excelled at stopping opponents from playing their own game.
They’ll certainly look to continue that on home turf and coming off a two-week break, so the Montreal boss has asked his charges to force SKC to run themselves out in pursuit of the ball in order to negate their numerous strengths. But Marsch doesn’t want to completely sacrifice the Impact’s style to accomplish that, either.
“With the ball, we’ve got to be sharp, we've got to space ourselves,” Marsch explained. “We've got to try to eliminate their physicality in the game and try and make it a game where they chase the ball a little bit more and that we stay organized [so] they can’t allow their athletic guys to get into isolated spots and expose us in that way.”
The most conclusive development from last Sunday’s 5-0 scrimmage thrashing of Dartmouth College might be repeated, as Nelson Rivas and Hassoun Camara are both expected to make their MLS debuts in central defense against Sporting. The two defenders clicked well against Dartmouth and should be entrusted with the mission of stopping the likes of Kei Kamara, much to his near-namesake’s delight.
“Working with such an experienced player is easy,” Camara said. “He played in one of the biggest clubs in the world, so he makes you very comfortable. He’s very calm. Working with guys like him or Matteo Ferrari is easy. We get along well off the field, on the field and during training.”