MONTREAL – Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps was not quite the start the Montreal Impact were hoping for this season.
However, morale remains high among Jesse Marsch's charges despite the setback. Montreal’s boss insists there are many positives to be taken from his team’s first taste of MLS action.
“Looking at the game as a whole, I don’t think we gave away much,” Marsch told reporters after training on Tuesday. “Yeah, we gave up a goal in the [fourth] minute, then we gave up another at the beginning of the second half. Then they hit the post… Other than that, there was a lot of solid defensive work. We just need to continue to move that along, and certainly good starts will now be vital for us.”
Indeed, Sébastien Le Toux's goal – the fastest goal in MLS First Kick history – killed any momentum the Montreal players might have gathered early on, leaving them to chase the game all afternoon in British Columbia. Captain Davy Arnaud came closest to writing his name in the history books as the Impact’s first ever MLS scorer with a header that was cleared off the line, but the Impact struggled going forward.
In Jesse Marsch’s mind, though, there is no need to press the alarm button just yet.
“I don’t think there’s any sense of panic,” Marsch said. “We need to continue to get sharper. [During Saturday’s] game, I felt we weren't sharp. Part of it is nerves, part of it is giving up an early goal. If you watch training, there are plenty of plays that lead to goals, we got chances in every game throughout preseason, and we are going to continue to move that along.”
With over 46,000 tickets sold so far for this Saturday's clash against Chicago Fire at the Olympic Stadium, the game will be a special event regardless of what happens on the field. Yet for the several former Fire members within the Impact staff (coaches Jesse Marsch, Denis Hamlett and Mike Sorber, as well as midfielder Justin Mapp), that feeling will be magnified.
“I still know players from that team, I have friends in the city,” said Mapp, who spent eight years with the Fire. “I enjoyed my time there, but when the game starts, they’re the opponent. I played a very short time for Philadelphia also, and it was special when I played them again. It will be the same on Saturday, as I spent the bulk of my career [with the Fire].”
Mapp also has some valuable insider knowledge, which may become very useful to Montreal when Saturday afternoon comes round.
“Their front guys – Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro – they scored a number of goals last year. They’re dangerous, fast and they can cause problems," Mapp said. "We’ll have to be ready.”
HIGHLIGHTS: VAN 2, MON 0