MONTREAL – A fresh start. As cliché as the phrase is, it’s precisely what the Impact look for against the Vancouver Whitecaps this Wednesday at BC Place (10 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS LIVE in US).
With two wins in 13 games, they sit at the bottom of the Supporters' Shield standings, eight points off a playoff spot. Their last outing, a 4-2 home loss to D.C. United that spoiled the start of their World Cup break, featured lapses of concentration that Montreal want – and need – to cut down on.
They’ve also won a second straight Amway Canadian Championship, and even if things aren't going as well as last year – Montreal lost only three league games at this point in 2013 – the Impact still feel like all is not lost.
“Maybe it’s difficult to think about this, but we can start from the beginning again and we’ll see what’s going to happen,” defender Matteo Ferrari told reporters on Monday. “The standings aren't nice, but it’s also not impossible to be there with the other teams fighting for the playoffs. We still believe in that.”
Montreal have tried to shake things up since the beginning of June. Gone are Jeb Brovsky, Hernán Bernardello – though the latter’s departure was admittedly unplanned. Futty Danso, Mechack Jérôme and Gorka Larrea have arrived.
Montreal admit that the new guys will take time to jell with the team, but given how fellow new arrivals Jack McInerney and Issey Nakajima-Farran settled, they’re optimistic.
“We’re turning the page on the first 13 games somewhat,” team captain Patrice Bernier told reporters. “We’re learning the lessons. We have a new group, and we have to make them feel as comfortable as possible in the hope that they’ll be a breath of fresh air, something new, renewed energy that, over the next 21 games, makes us bond together and set the record straight.”
The road back is tough, with four of their next six games away from home. Not only could Felipe miss the Vancouver date due to the imminent birth of his first child, but the Impact also travelled without the injured Justin Mapp, Calum Mallace and Marco Di Vaio.
But head coach Frank Klopas trusts that others will take advantage of the opportunities presented.
“We’re playing a good team that has pace in the final third,” Klopas told reporters. “Tactically, we need to have a good game plan. But then, on the field, I give confidence to my players. They have to go out there with a lot of confidence and play knowing that there’s a lot of games left to be played. Everything is possible.”
Olivier Tremblay covers the Montreal Impact for MLSsoccer.com.