All options look open for the Montreal Impact going into their next CONCACAF Champions League game.
Fitness permitting, the Impact could count on their veterans against the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday night at Buck Shaw Stadium (10 pm ET, Fox Sports 2), as the likes of Alessandro Nesta, Marco Di Vaio and Patrice Bernier figure among the 20 players that travelled from Montreal to Northern California on Sunday.
Assistant coach Mauro Biello spoke to MLSsoccer.com before the Impact’s social media accounts confirmed these players’ presence in San Jose on Monday. While it was too early to tell every player's physical level – the Impact faced an MLS and Reserve League double-header on Saturday – Biello said a first assessment would be completed on Monday evening.
A weekend game always leaves physical marks, but Biello is adamant that Montreal's 2-1 home loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday hasn’t had any repercussions on the Impact’s approach to Tuesday’s game.
“We knew that both games were important,” Biello said by phone from San Jose. “We’re going to approach them the same and try to pick up points. We couldn’t on Saturday, but we’re getting ready to field the team that will help up grab points against San Jose.”
And the Impact are anticipating a stern test against a San Jose team that needs three points on Tuesday to remain in the competition – Group 5 leaders CD Heredia sit on six points from their first two games. Biello expects both Steven Lenhart and Rafael Baca, who were suspended for San Jose’s 0-0 draw against Vancouver on Saturday, to play a part.
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Both players had also skipped the first group game between the two sides, a 1-0 Montreal home win after which Earthquakes interim head coach Mark Watson had admitted that he had not expected Montreal to field such a strong side.
“Whether they put their starters or reserves out there, everyone wants to win the game,” Biello said. “They do nothing in order to lose. We have to be ready. It depends on us, on how we want to win the game. They decide who plays, but we have to pick up points.”