MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact’s meetings against the Houston Dynamo in 2013 can be split into two sets of circumstances and it’s clear which one they want to see replicated this Thursday.
But that was in the summer.
Montreal then lost 1-0 in Houston on Oct. 4, the first of four shutout losses in five games to close out their season.
Montreal assistant coach Mauro Biello said that setback was due to Houston adapting, something he said the Impact will have to do in their Knockout Round game against the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium (8:30 pm ET, NBCSN).
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“Against us, in the first two games, they put pressure higher up on the field,” Biello told reporters on Tuesday. “In that game down there, they waited for us a bit more, with 10 players behind the ball.”
Houston’s Ricardo Clark scoring the lone goal of the encounter in the sixth minute might have contributed to that, but the underlying message when Montreal talk about that game in Houston still remains: the Dynamo adjusted, Montreal didn’t.
But the Impact have identified some keys from the previous two games that they must apply again: player mobility and ball movement.
“That’s the recipe for us, keeping the ball and playing,” Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier told reporters on Wednesday. “They’re a team that plays aggressively, that goes into duels. The more we move the ball around, the less we end up in those kinds of contacts and the more we reap the benefits needed to score goals.”
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On the defensive side, meanwhile, a somewhat different group than in recent times will carry out those adjustments. While the Impact have ruled out center back Alessandro Nesta for the Knockout Round, left back Jeb Brovsky will be available for selection with his fractured toe fully healed. And even central defender Nelson Rivas will travel with the team and could lend a hand at some point.
“We’re switching up some tactics and making sure that we’re solid defensively,” Brovsky said. “We can’t be afraid to put it all on the line. We can’t sit back and hope for a simple result. We want to go in and we want to get on a roll for the next few weeks.”
Olivier Tremblay covers the Montreal Impact for MLSsoccer.com.