Riding a four-game losing streak this week, Montreal Impact head coach Remi Garde spoke of several players who hadn't featured in recent weeks, for various reasons.
Was he trying to light a fire under them? Based on the results on Saturday, it sure seems like he did, and it worked.
Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Raheem Edwards, two players Garde called out by name earlier in the week, stepped up in a major way, as Jackson-Hamel scored a brace and Edwards tallied the game-winning goal in a 4-2 victory over the New England Revolution at Stade Saputo.
"My teammates know what my strengths are, and those are the runs I make and the options I give to whoever has the ball," said Jackson-Hamel following the game. "I was able to create space and we were able to be efficient behind the defense by positioning ourselves deeper on the field."
“From what I see in training, it just isn’t sufficient for me to tell myself that these are players, when I turn and look at my bench, who are going to change the game,” Garde said before practice on Tuesday. “When you don’t play, when you are a player who is not used that often, the best way to change that is training. The coach must go into the dressing room thinking: “crap, if I don’t make him play, all the others will not understand.” I expect more answers on that side. I have lived that situation, when you don’t play that much, you ask yourself questions. It’s up to those who don’t play to put me in a tough spot and force me to play them..”
Garde also called out Edwards, saying "I have a lot of frustration with Raheem's case," and said the young Canadian was going through a "difficult period that was not really related to football."
For his part, after the match Edwards emphasized the team's need to get a win after a rough stretch over his personal situation.
"It was important for the team to bounce back today," said Edwards, who started and played 85 minutes in the win. "We were going through a difficult period and we needed points. To be able to do it at home feels great."
Postgame, Garde was already looking ahead to the next week, with two games on the docket for the Impact.
"What we accomplished was great, but there's not much time to enjoy it," said Garde. "Especially this week, since we're playing in Chicago on Wednesday, and then Saturday we'll be back home. We still need to progress, but this was a good beginning of an answer."