MONTREAL – At least Jesse Marsch won't need to play Tetris with his center backs next week.
Nelson Rivas (above left) will be suspended for Montreal's next match, an Aug. 12 date with the New England Revolution, thanks to his headbutt on Philadelphia’s Antoine Hoppenot and subsequent ejection on Saturday night. That all but confirms the Matteo Ferrari experiment at left back – which Marsch found to be quite effective – is over for the time being.
The Montreal boss said he could not see the Rivas incident clearly, however, after his side won 2-0 against the Union. The suspension is “unfortunate,” Marsch said, because of Rivas’ recent fitness and form, but he also disapproved of the defender’s reaction.
“In general, Nelson is an intimidating defender,” Marsch said in his postgame press conference. “So as a starting point, I don’t think he needs to respond like that to show how physically intimidating he is. All competitive players have moments when they, for a moment, lose it or feel like they're not going to back down.”
RED CARD: Rivas and McInerney sent off
All Marsch can hope now is that the MLS Disciplinary Committee will be soft on Rivas this week. Last season, for example, Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman picked up a three-game suspension for a headbutt on Chicago’s Daniel Paladini.
Yet it is unlikely that Marsch’s team will adopt another approach moving forward. Never afraid to step up for teammates when he himself was a player, Marsch stated that he demanded from every player that they “give [all] of themselves.”
“We don’t want our guys to back down, that’s for sure, but it’s got to be done in a smart way,” Marsch explained. “Again, I don’t know how much this one crosses the line – if it crosses the line. But we’re certainly hopeful that this is a one-game suspension, because Nelson is an important guy for us.”
As for Rivas’ teammates, they do not seem to hold his gesture against him. The end result, a win that keeps Montreal in the heart of the race for a playoff spot in the East, will keep the squad happy, and besides, they understand how emotions can sometimes get the better of an individual.
“It’s not like we ended up a man down,” midfielder Patrice Bernier said. “[Philadelphia's Jack McInerney] was sent off. In the heat of things, stuff happens on the field. We have enough great defenders to cope.”