FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Montreal Impact coach Mauro Biello conceived the plan for this awkward Decision Day trip to New England carefully.
Biello knew he planned to rest several players ahead of the midweek Knockout Round match, but he wanted to give his players a chance to secure a result and a possible home game at Stade Saputo nevertheless.
“Playing a game on Thursday dictated my decisions on resting certain players,” Biello told MLSsoccer.com after the 3-0 defeat at Gillette Stadium clinched fifth place in the Eastern Conference. “It’s only normal. You want to give yourself the best possible chance of winning that game on Thursday. But, at the same time, we came here with a plan to keep it close and then go for it.”
As Decision Day unfolded, he even thought the pieces might fall in place for the Impact. Montreal conceded once before halftime, but the Impact improved after the break and prompted two saves from Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper.
Biello saw enough to throw Dominic Oduro and Ignacio Piatti into the fray just before the hour mark, but Juan Agudelo scored seconds after their arrival to set the Impact on course for a trip to RFK Stadium to play D.C. United in midweek.
It is a difficult test for a Montreal side still waiting to see whether Didier Drogba will feature, but Biello – boosted by the likely return of rested players like Marco Donadel and Matteo Mancosu – thinks his side is ready for the challenge against United.
“They are a team that is doing really well,” Biello said. “They finished the season as probably one of the hottest teams in the league. They made a couple of changes midseason and it’s worked out well for them with [Patrick] Mullins and [Lloyd] Sam. They’ve integrated well in there. They’re scoring goals and playing well. We’re expecting a difficult game over there. The games we played against them were both close. But we’ll work very hard to go there and try to win.”