MONTREAL – Impact fans rejoice: after missing the last two games through injury, Alessandro Nesta is giving Jesse Marsch no choice but to play him against D.C. United on Saturday (4 pm ET; TSN 2 & RDS in Canada, MLS Live in the US).
“If I told him he wasn’t playing, he’d be mad,” Marsch told reporters with a grin.
The Italian defender has looked increasingly comfortable in training this week and should be fielded next to Matteo Ferrari, who has recovered fully from an illness he caught before last Saturday’s game against San Jose.
Given the suspensions of both Nelson Rivas and Hassoun Camara, Nesta is making quite a timely comeback, just as one of the most prolific attacks in MLS makes its Stade Saputo debut.
“They like to make combinations around the box and stuff like that, and they like to shoot from outside,” right back Jeb Brovsky said. “They've got a very diverse attack and we need to make sure that we cover all of our bases, basically.”
However, Ben Olsen’s men are coming to Montreal with their 4-2 win over Chicago on Wednesday still fresh in their minds and another midweek game against New York ahead. Unsurprisingly, the Impact will look to test them physically right from the start.
“It’s going to be a physical match for them and we’ve got to impose our game on them,” goalkeeper Troy Perkins said. “We’ve got to make them chase [the ball]. They’re coming off two games this week and they put a lot of effort forward [Wednesday]. They have to come in here, and we’ve got to make sure that they don’t get a breather.”
But the Impact will not be “naïve,” as Marsch put it, and think that an exhausted D.C. team will come to Montreal and already call it quits at kickoff.
“We know that, in terms of that, physically, it can be tough on those guys, but we can't expect anything less than a very good game, because they know how big this game is,” team captain Davy Arnaud said. “It's just as big for them as it is for us.”