MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact are set for one last push.
The first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship finals against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Stade Saputo on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET, Sportsnet in Canada) will be Montreal’s seventh game in 22 days. It was a generally successful, if challenging, sequence (three wins, two losses and one draw), but it has left a few marks.
But awaiting the Impact is 10 days’ rest, which should suffice for the likes of Davy Arnaud (concussion-like symptoms) and Alessandro Nesta (right groin strain) to heal up – while other injured players are not expected back until after Montreal's following game, on May 25 against the Philadelphia Union.
“In a career, you don’t often play finals,” midfielder Patrice Bernier told reporters on Tuesday. “You can count those on the fingers of one hand, two if you’re lucky and playing with a very good team. … We’ve got to go for it, knowing that we have 10 days to then get ready for the next sequence and rest those who need rest.”
Added defender Jeb Brovsky: “Our mentality should almost be the same as when we played Toronto [in the ACC semifinal second leg]. You saw fire, passion, going forward with conviction. I think that’s what we need to do, especially against a team like Vancouver. The more you keep them in it, the more they can punish you.”
Which is why everyone in Impact camp insists they need a good start against Vancouver. Montreal’s 2-0 first leg loss in their semifinal duel with Toronto left the Impact needing a miracle. The 6-0 second-leg thrashing they gave the Reds was magical indeed, and the Impact loved every second. But they have no intention of travelling to Vancouver for the second leg needing another.
Head coach Marco Schälllibaum expects Vancouver to close down the channels well, looking for an away goal the Impact are determined not to concede. Ultimately, they are aiming, as he put it, for “a good result that allows us to dream.”
“If we can lead by two or more goals,” Bernier added, “then it’d be perfect for the return leg.”
And surely Montreal would get more soothing rest in the coming days.