Heading into his first Concacaf Champions League venture manning an MLS sideline, Montreal Impact head coach Thierry Henry is under no illusions about the task that lies ahead.
For Henry, the hope is that Montreal have shaken off the rust over the course of what has thus far been a lackluster preseason. The Impact are 1-4-0 in their exhibition slate, which has seen them struggle to finish chances. And they're about to take on a formidable and in-form CCL foe in Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa, which is already 10 games into its league campaign.
"It's gonna be a tough one," Henry said after Montreal's 2-1 preseason defeat to the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL Championship on Saturday. "Them being already 10 games into their season and us battling a couple of injuries and trying to find our fitness. But it is what it is, that's how the season starts. That's not the way you wanted to end [preseason], you wanted to have maybe more wins. You would have liked to have more goals maybe. But we created [chances], so that's the positive side. It's going to be tough, I'm not going to lie, especially how we're arriving there against a team that's won it three times."
Montreal's Round of 16 matchup against Saprissa will pit Henry against a former teammate in Saprissa defender Roy Miller, who Henry played with on the New York Red Bulls from 2010-2014. After Saturday's match, Henry said he had discussions with Miller during their time in New York that he feels have helped give him a good idea of what to expect.
"I've never played there but, trust me, Roy Miller told me a lot about how Saprissa plays when we were playing together with the New York Red Bulls," Henry said. "It's gonna be a tough game for us, tough atmosphere, but we feel like we are ready."
Despite the slow preseason, Henry has also expressed optimism that come CCL time, his team will be up for the moment and be able to snap out of that scoring funk.
"We hope that we don't score now and [then] score when we need to score when we start the official games," Henry said after Montreal's preseason match against Nasvhille SC on Friday. "When we play at Saprissa there won't be any excuses because they're 10 games [into the season], because it will be [hot] or whatever. At the end of the day it's a game we need to go out and perform, be a bit clever on what we need to do."