MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact’s and Chicago Fire’s midweek shifts could hardly have been more different.
On the one hand, Montreal got some good feelings back against San Jose in their CONCACAF Champions League opener on Wednesday. Scoring early – and on a set piece, no less – set Stade Saputo on fire despite the pouring rain, and the 1-0 result could spur them on in both the CCL and MLS.
Chicago, on the other hand, were upset at home by an on-the-rise D.C. United team when they were two wins away from a record fifth US Open Cup. But as the Impact prepare for Saturday's trip to Toyota Park (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live), they'll have to keep in mind a favorite phrase of Impact head coach Marco Schällibaum: A wounded tiger is more dangerous.
“The fact that they’ve lost, that they had the opportunity to reach the final and that they missed it, it will have angered them,” Schällibaum told reporters on Friday morning. “You always have to address a number of things after a loss, but it changes nothing to the fact that it will be a difficult game. But my group is doing well after the good performance on Wednesday, which upped their morale.
“This morning, I also asked for that stability we had at the beginning of the season,” Schällibaum continued. “We can’t go up and down all the time. We need the points from this game, which is very important and requires defensive sturdiness.”
New Designated Player Hernán Bernardello was a valuable addition to Montreal’s defensive puzzle at home against San Jose, covering a lot of ground and providing constant options for under-pressure teammates. How long Bernardello will be tested on the road – if he is selected in the XI at all – will depend on his recovery this week after unexpectedly playing all 90 minutes on Wednesday.
Influential midfielder Patrice Bernier, who is likely to start in Chicago after only a nine-minute cameo against the Earthquakes, is confident that Bernardello will reinforce Montreal’s capacities to control games on the long run. On the short-term, meanwhile, Bernier agrees with Schällibaum’s emphasis on stability at the back.
“We have to be calm, solid defensively like we were in the last game,” Bernier said. “We know we’ll create chances. We simply have to not leave them any space and not commit mistakes they could benefit from.”