MONTREAL – It had been nearly seven weeks since a change, but the Montreal Impact will have to switch their defensive pieces this weekend.
After a lower body injury prevented Italian defender Alessandro Nesta from training this week, assistant coach Mauro Biello confirmed on Friday morning that Nesta wouldn't be an option as the Impact play the first of seven games in August, this Saturday against D.C. United at RFK Stadium (7:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).
Montreal will likely opt for a tried-and-tested combination, as it appears that newly signed center back Adrián López won’t be replacing Nesta.
“We’ve tried different things out,” Biello told reporters. “I don’t think López will be the one coming with us. We tried other options in defense this week, so in the end, we’ll choose the best solution.”
The 26-year-old from FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic had been away from the field for two months prior to joining the Montreal squad in training this week. Caution is thus the order of the day not only for him, but also for newest DP midfielder Hernán Bernardello, who last played in June, for Argentina’s Atlético Colón.
As head coach Marco Schällibaum pointed out on Thursday, throwing both players on the field straightaway would be a brutally effective way to burn them out until the remaining stages of the season. The Swiss coach is pleased with both men’s progress so far and they could become available in the coming weeks as the CONCACAF Champions League kicks off.
“We’re integrating them into the group, but they work on endurance also,” Schällibaum told reporters. “When we work on tactics, they come back with us, but they can’t work on speed. We have to manage that.”
Another player who won’t make it onto the RFK Stadium grass is forward Andrew Wenger. The 22-year-old sustained a hairline fracture in a toe in a 0-0 Reserve League draw against New York Red Bulls on July 14 and has seemingly played through the pain in his cameos against FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City.
“He could either take two weeks off now, or play until December, undergo surgery and miss six weeks,” Schällibaum explained. “He chose the two weeks off with a cast that holds his toes together.”