MONTREAL – Impact head coach Jesse Marsch might not want to dwell on his team's severe 3-0 defeat to Toronto FC on Wednesday, but he certainly wants his players to learn lessons from it. And going into this Saturday’s game against D.C. United at RFK Stadium (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), he will try to do so by keeping them on their toes when it comes to choosing his starting XI.
Consequently, the Impact boss made numerous changes to his lineup during practice on Friday. Most notably, he confirmed Justin Mapp would be back at left midfield, substituted Sanna Nyassi for Marco Di Vaio up top – “We’re leaning toward using him of the bench,” Marsch said of his new No. 9 – and surprisingly fielded Zarek Valentin alongside Shavar Thomas in central defense.
“We’re still evaluating certain things, because we have to see where everybody’s legs are, but it’s something we're thinking about,” Marsch told reporters. “[Valentin]’s played there plenty in the past and he’s actually quite a good center back, so we know that that’s been an option.”
As for veteran center backs Nelson Rivas and Matteo Ferrari, it will still be some time before their head coach can consider them. While Marsch is hopeful that the Italian will be ready to go in two to three weeks' time, he could not provide a quantifiable update on the Colombian’s situation amid reports that he could miss six to eight weeks.
Switching things around for fitness reasons could turn out to be the difference between the Impact’s current seven-games-in-23-days stretch and their month of May, which started with a grueling five games in 15 days. Whereas Marsch tested his roster earlier, this time he has decided to rely more on what the staff has identified as their regular group.
“That being said, where we are with injuries and physically with all these games, I know that it’s important to call on certain guys and I think they’re ready to go,” Marsch said. “The ultimate test will be what it looks like tomorrow, but I have leaned a little bit more toward sticking with certain guys in this stretch than I did before.”
The Montreal coach also hinted at a possible change in front of goal; Donovan Ricketts could be rested against D.C., which means Evan Bush – who spent 2011 with the NASL version of the Impact – could make his MLS debut.
“Evan’s been good in training, in reserve games,” Marsch stated. “So if he does get the nod, it’s more about him earning it, because he's shown that he’s a good goalie.”