MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact badly needed a win on Wednesday night, and got it.
Facing their bitter rivals Toronto FC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship final, Montreal pulled out a 1-0 victory at home. On the mental side of things, the Impact said it felt like they got their wings back.
“It’s a mental game,” said coach Wilmer Cabrera. “When everything starts moving well, it’s contagious. When you see Nacho Piatti playing well, then you see Saphir Taider playing well, the defenders stopping and tackling the ball, that generates good vibes and good momentum.”
Piatti got things going early, as the Argentine broke a 250-minute long goalless streak with a heavy strike from 30 yards out at the 17th minute. The Impact then put themselves in a promising position in this two-legged final by keeping a clean sheet at Stade Saputo.
“We were criticized a lot lately, with reason,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “But we hope that the performance and the result were able to prove that we’re a serious team that wants to accomplish great things despite the recent run of form.”
Montreal have been adamant on fulfilling their two season objectives: Lifting the Voyageurs Cup and making the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. However, the aftermath of Wednesday’s first leg may put a dent in their plans.
“When he shot the goal that was disallowed for offside, he felt something and he was really uncomfortable,” Cabrera said. “To be honest with you, I don’t want to lose players, so I said: ‘You know what, let’s take him out and we’ll figure it out later.”
Cabrera added that Bojan wanted to continue but took him out of the game for precautionary measures. Adding to the equation the fact that Taider’s second yellow card eliminates him from the second leg in Toronto next week, Cabrera admitted he’d have to change his approach.
“We need to figure out what happened with Bojan and what happened with Maxi,” he said. “That’s the game, in a game you can injured, you can get a red card or a yellow card.”
The Impact now travel to Dignity Health Sports Park to take on the LA Galaxy on Saturday (10:30 pm ET | TVAS in Canada, MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US). Piatti, who played the full 90 minutes of Montreal’s last two games, wasn’t scheduled to fly to California.
Depending on the severity of the injuries, that plan may go out the window.
“We had some plans with some players. The problem is that we didn’t plan that Bojan and Maxi would get injured,” Cabrera said. “Nacho was scheduled to stay here, do recovery and wait for Wednesday, but with this situation he might have to travel and play. We’ll see.”
He added that the club tried but wasn’t able to secure a charter flight to Los Angeles. Coincidentally, TFC will also fly to SoCal to take on LAFC at the same moment. Regardless, Montreal’s head coach is convinced that his team needs to be “full in” on every game regardless of the distance or the competition.
“We have to bring that energy and that mentality to LA first,” Cabrera said. “But we’re going to play another final [at BMO Field]. I’m not worried about playing in Toronto.”