When the Montreal Impact face Saprissa on Wednesday evening (8 pm ET | FS2, TUDNxtra 1 in US; TSN5, RDS in Canada) in Concacaf Champions League action, midfielder Samuel Piette has little doubt their offense will reach another gear.
His confidence comes in spite of Montreal recording one win and four losses through five preseason games, all while being blanked on three occasions. And the importance of a goal comes into greater focus when considering their Round of 16 first leg occurs in Costa Rica, with the return fixture set for next week at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
“I think we want to play offensive football, yes, but you got to be clever as well,” Piette said. “You cannot put five or six strikers and just try to attack, you have to be clever and try to keep clean sheets. If you keep clean sheets then you have a better chance to win, obviously. I think we’ve been pretty solid with that in preseason.
“We haven’t scored the amount of goals we want this preseason, but I know it’s going to come. I’m not afraid with the quality that we have, the goals are going to come for sure. “
Impact players, namely goalkeeper Evan Bush, have already lamented a new hole in their attack after maestro Ignacio Piatti returned to San Lorenzo in his native Argentina. Yet, some impactful players remain in the final third, including the likes of Orji Okwonkwo, Bojan Krcic and Saphir Taider.
They’ll need to hit the ground running come Wednesday evening, which will also serve as head coach Thierry Henry’s debut on the MLS sidelines.
“Preseason was really long with all the friendly games you have, it’s always fun to play, but you’re always excited to play the real games,” Piette said. “For us, the first game is, yes, a Champions League game, but for us it’s the same as a friendly game or an MLS regular-season game. We want to go out there and win, whether it’s at home or away.”
The Impact have proud history in the CCL, with no run more significant than in 2015. Montreal reached the final that year, only to fall to Liga MX side Club America on aggregate.
“It’s not easy to explain or tell the way to switch, but we talked about this game a few weeks ago,” Fanni said. “That’s why all the players, we like competition since we are young, and I think with that it’s automatic to talk about this game, to prepare [for] this game."