CARSON, Calif. – It didn’t exactly work out as the Montreal Impact had hoped Wednesday morning at the Home Depot Center.
Their first friendly against MLS competition saw them lose 2-0, saw them struggle to create chances and saw forward Justin Braun limp off the field in the second half after being on the wrong end of a hard, high challenge from Houston Dynamo trialist Óscar Recio.
In short, it was a rite of passage: Welcome to the league, Montreal Impact.
“It’s our first MLS experience now, and it’s a tough day for us,” head coach Jesse Marsch explained to reporters. “Physically now, the game is fast, they’re a strong team – mentally strong, physically strong, so it tests us a lot.”
While Montreal didn’t ace the test, they showed enough to give Marsch and the rest of the brain trust reason for optimism. Converted left back Tyson Wahl looked solid in central defense, Patrice Bernier had his moments in central midfield, and veterans Davy Arnaud and Brian Ching combined several times to good effect despite being unable to dent Tally Hall’s net.
While things came apart somewhat in the second 45, there were enough positives for Marsch to focus on moving forward.
“It tests us a lot, and I think it’s a good day for us, an important day for us,” Marsch said. “We need to start the learning process of knowing what games are like in this league and at this level, and how we’re going to adjust and get [to that level].”
Defensively, Montreal were able to deny Houston prolonged stretches of possession in the attacking third, though they were susceptible to quick, direct approaches. The Dynamo made them pay in that fashion twice – first with a Colin Clark goal in the 67th minute, then with one from Cam Weaver 16 minutes later.
“Still, some of the defensive organization was good, some of the attempts and ideas were good, but everything needs to happen faster and everything needs to be stronger,” Marsch explained. “There’s some of the things that we’ve been working on as a unit, but not it gets tested at a faster speed, a stronger speed.”
Braun limps off
Braun, who partnered with Eduardo Sebrango up top in the second half, came off after he was scythed down from behind by Recio in the 68th minute.
“It was a terrible tackle – it’s unfortunate,” Marsch said. “When you play, especially in preseason games, you’re hoping to avoid those kinds of tackles. He’s a little sore in his ankle and we’re gonna get it checked out to see where it’s at.”