MONTREAL – This season in Impact-land, the question on Fridays has not been if there would be changes at the back, but about what those changes would be.
It's a question that still lingers. A nagging knee injury to Nelson Rivas, who only managed one training session this week, means that Jesse Marsch will once again shuffle his backline this Saturday as Sporting Kansas City pay their second visit to the Impact at Stade Saputo (1 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, watch on MLS LIVE in the US).
The Montreal boss, who expects Sporting to bring their typically physical game to Quebec despite their midweek effort in New York, feels that no risk must be taken with Rivas’ condition.
“[The injury] stems from something that happened a few months back,” Marsch told reporters on Friday morning. “We're hopeful that we can give it some rest, but we'll wait and see.”
Defender Matteo Ferrari, who deputized on the flanks in the last two games, will shift to his preferred center back position, allowing 23-year-old Jeb Brovsky to step in at left back for his 22nd start in 31 games, a team-high among defenders.
Regardless of the constant changes, Montreal have looked surprisingly comfortable at the back, most notably when they picked up five wins on the trot with four different quartets.
“We’ve played a lot of different back fours, but we have a lot of guys that are capable,” team captain Davy Arnaud said. “Obviously, in an ideal world, you’d have the same team on the field every game and get results every game, but that’s not the reality.”
Changes will not be limited to the backline, though. In front of Brovsky, Justin Mapp will be handed his first start since an injury forced him to come off during Montreal’s win at the New England Revolution on August 12.
By his own account, Mapp has not fully regained match fitness, however. As a result, there could be further changes on the Impact’s left flank as the game goes on.
“I don’t know about 90 minutes, being out for a while and only getting a handful of practices, but we’ve got a deep team with plenty of guys that can come in if I do get fatigued or whoever does and give us that boost,” Mapp said. “It'll be a team effort, for sure.”