MONTREAL – Kristian Nicht doesn’t get Fox Sports at home.
Last Wednesday, there he was at his local pub in Indianapolis, alone, watching the Montreal Impact take on Club América in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final under the annoyed eye of the owner, who wanted to close and go home.
Nicht stayed until the end of the game.
This Tuesday, here he was at the Olympic Stadium with Montreal, having cancelled travel plans to prepare for the biggest game of his life. Cracking jokes, too.
“Everything that’s happened between me and Montreal in the last four months was always kind of crazy and kind of short notice,” Nicht told reporters following his acquisition Monday night from NASL side Indy Eleven. “I’m kind of getting used to it, getting calls from Montreal saying, ‘Listen, get ready for us.’ I can pack my luggage pretty quick by now. Business as usual.”
When Nicht learned on Monday that the Impact had elected him as a possible solution for their goalkeeping issues, he made his suitcase for Montreal for the third time this year. Twice, the Impact had loaned him to be cover for starter Evan Bush in CCL play. Nicht had even spent all 17 days of the Impact’s preseason trip to Mexico with the team.
“He wants to be part of the team; he wants to be part of the adventure,” Impact center back Bakary Soumare said. “If there’s one guy out here, and I think there’s been a lot of things that have been said about bringing a guy in from somewhere else, but having Kristian here for us I think it’s great. It’s a guy that’s been part of this whole adventure for awhile vs. a guy who comes in and plays and goes back. For me on a personal level, I think it’s a great scenario.”
Given the limited time at Montreal’s disposal, Nicht ensures the most seamless transition. He is also the most experienced option: The 33-year-old is a 16-year veteran as a professional in Germany, Norway and the NASL.
Despite the media’s best efforts, no player or coach spilled the beans on which goalkeeper would start Wednesday in the second leg of the CCL final (8 pm ET; Fox Sports 2, UniMás in US; Sportsnet One, TVA Sports 2 in Canda). Whether it’s Nicht, John Smits, who on loan from FC Edmonton of the NASL, or Impact Academy product Maxime Crépeau playing, the task at hand is tricky.
“It is hard,” Montreal head coach Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s why I said it’s going to be very unfair [to whichever goalkeeper plays]. We were stuck in an emergency situation.”
It also leaves Montreal's back four to be oriented by a player they've never played a competitive game with. But Soumare quickly dismissed those concerns.
“When we played our first game in Pachuca, we hadn’t played a competitive game together,” Soumare said of their quarterfinals CCL series that started before the Impact began their MLS schedule after a number of offseason acquisitions. “There were [Laurent] Ciman, [Donny] Toia, [Victor] Cabrera; all four of us, we had never played together. It happens in soccer. It’s part of soccer. It’s part of the beauty of sport. But it's still football. It's a goalkeeper. I don't know who will play, but any of the two that plays tomorrow, we trust him and it’ll go well.”
Added Nicht: “I’m very confident that I can do the job. I don't know what'll happen tomorrow. I don't know who will be starting. There's a couple of videos on YouTube. You have 24 hours to watch a couple of videos [of me].”