MONTREAL – The Impact’s first visit to Red Bull Arena in 2013 is an early one, but they still feel it’s a crucial one.
Marco Schällibaum’s men are currently at the critical point of their busiest stretch – seven games in 22 days finishing next Wednesday – of the season. But if Schällibaum keeps on adeptly managing his roster on the way to three points this Wednesday against New York (7:30 pm ET; MLS Live), his team could leapfrog a direct rival – both New York and Montreal are on 17 points, and the Impact have three games in hand.
“To me, the Red Bulls are a playoff team,” Schällibaum told reporters. “It’ll be a good test. It’s something of a summit, and we have to learn how to play like leaders. Tomorrow, when we’re in the attacking third, we’ll have to play like a team that wants to be at the top.”
For that to happen, Schällibaum has made the most of the few days he’s had since Montreal’s 2-2 draw in San Jose this past weekend. He got his troops into the gym on Sunday before the day-long trip back from California, gave them a day off on Monday for freshness and called them back to the training field on Tuesday “to sweat the remaining fatigue out.”
The goal is to be ready to face a team that will look drastically different from the one they beat 1-0 in Montreal back on March 23.
That time through, New York were without Designated Players Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, both of whom should figure on Wednesday.
Yet as Schällibaum underlined, his whole group has adopted an approach they’ve been faithful to for many months already, and the current squad rotation has only helped the players focus on that approach – regardless of who’s lining up across from them.
“Yes, we’re moving on quickly to the next game, but we still managed to put some good performances together,” defender Hassoun Camara said. “It’s not easy with fatigue and injuries, but we’re managing ourselves well. We have some good, reliable guys on the field, as well as subs, that can help us do well in New York.
“We have to remain focused. We have 17 points, too, there’s many teams clogging the top of the standings. And we’re going to New York for three points, why not?”