MONTREAL – The Impact are almost there.
This Sunday’s game at Stade Saputo against the Columbus Crew (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) will signal the end of a punishing stretch of seven games in 23 days for the Montreal club, which means they will finally enjoy five game-free weekdays before playing the Union at PPL Park next Saturday.
For Felipe and Davy Arnaud, however, that just means an extended rest. Both picked up a crucial yellow card in the Impact’s 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday and will be suspended against the Crew.
The absence of both players comes at an unfortunate time, as the link-up play with Designated Player Marco Di Vaio is looking increasingly promising – especially the passages of play between Di Vaio, Felipe and Justin Mapp on the left against KC – but Jesse Marsch will not be making wholesale changes to his approach.
“We’re going to stick to our same sort of formation,” Marsch told reporters on Friday, “and just supplement a few different guys at different spots, call on guys that I know are ready and go from there.”
The transition for those players will not be easy against a Crew side that boasts the best defensive record in MLS at the moment. It's also a side that, like Marsch’s own intentions as a head coach, makes a point of being hard to play against.
Oddly, though, Marsch feels that the preludes to games have a slightly Groundhog Day feel to them lately, which could offer his team a familiar setting to work in.
“I feel like when it comes to what we talk about, preparing for teams, it’s almost like a broken record,” Marsch told reporters on Friday. “Every team we play against, it’s physical and they command the game in that way and they’re good on set pieces. We’ve got to continue to figure out how to be successful in those kinds of games.”
Nevertheless, the last three games have been less than kind to the Impact, and against a backline that has conceded a mere six goals in eight encounters away from home, they will need to use all the tricks in their bag.
“I think it’s just going to create a little bit of a creativity problem,” defender Jeb Brovsky said. “We need to be a little more creative and we need to see if we can expose them, get our outside backs up top and see if we can get some crosses in.”