Matteo Ferrari - Top Bar
Getty Images

Impact going for experienced central defense vs. LA

MONTREAL – With the most glamorous attack in MLS coming to town, a record crowd expected at the Olympic Stadium and a disappointing Canadian Championship semifinal to put to rest, the Montreal Impact’s tussle with the LA Galaxy on Saturday (4 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada; MLS Live in the US) will be a high-pressure affair. And it looks like head coach Jesse Marsch will respond by pairing two center backs who are used to the bright lights.

Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas teamed up in central defense during training on Friday, and the coach’s habits suggest the experienced duo will the field on Saturday.

So far, only Rivas has been confirmed as a starter, but Ferrari’s comments on the experiment conducted during practice indicate he’s expecting to step up.

“I think everyone was waiting for that,” Ferrari told reporters. “Finally, we are ready to play together, and I feel we can be a good couple, because we are different. We can play together very well.”

Rivas and Ferrari could be joined by Hassoun Camara, no stranger to the European game himself, on the left of the Impact’s backline. The former Marseille and SC Bastia man is not a left back by trade, but the Frenchman says he’s ready for an outing that will see him matched up with Landon Donovan and David Beckham.

“It’s a first experience for me, but as ever, I’ll do what the coach asks,” Camara said on Friday. “No matter the position, I have to do my best. … We’ll put the finishing touches to my playing that position today and tomorrow morning. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to make excuses because it’s not my natural position; it’s up to me to be as good as I can be on the field.”

Marsch could spring another surprise at right back, where he is considering starting the Impact’s second-round MLS SuperDraft pick, Calum Mallace. The rookie, who has played midfield since his youth, is still in the process of adjusting to life as a defender, but the Marquette product says he’s getting close.

“It’s hard, switching positions like that, but I’m growing more and more comfortable with it every day,” Mallace said. “It’s still continuing, so if I don't get that start tomorrow, then I’ll just keep working, and then hopefully, by the time I do, I’ll be even more comfortable.”

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.