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Rested and ready, Impact aim to climb conference ladder

MONTREAL – Starting this Saturday against the Philadelphia Union (7 pm ET; watch LIVE online), the Montreal Impact will face three teams – the New England Revolution and the Houston Dynamo are the other two – that are all in the hunt for the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

And if the Impact are to pip them all, the next three results had better be positive.

“If we want to make it, we have to take points away from them,” midfielder Patrice Bernier told reporters on Friday. “We lost a few against teams like New York, but now we have a chance, against teams close to us in terms of points, to either narrow the gap or extend it. There isn’t much of a margin left; we have to take points against Eastern Conference teams."

The good news for Montreal is that, for the first time in almost a month, they will go into a game as the fresher of the two sides. While the Union competed in a midweek US Open Cup semi-final, the Impact enjoyed two full days’ rest after their 2-1 win over Columbus on Sunday before getting back on the training field.

“I think that it was nice for us to have a week where we could physically prepare ourselves, get a little bit of rest and mentally prepare for these next three games,” head coach Jesse Marsch said.

This week’s pregame preparation was not the quietest for the Montreal players, however, as they bid adieu to Justin Braun and Tyson Wahl, both of whom were traded to Western Conference clubs.

They also said hello to left back Dennis Iapichino, who joined the team on Wednesday, and will make the trip to Philadelphia with his new teammates. Italian legend Alessandro Nesta, meanwhile, has been around but will most likely not make his MLS debut for another week.

“People that are around the team and know us a little bit know that it’s a tight group,” right back Zarek Valentin explained. “We let new guys in, whoever it might be, and welcome them with open arms. I’ll give them a hug and say ‘Hello and welcome.’ We expect them to be great players and contribute.”

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