Montreal Impact midfielder Amar Sejdic looks to make a play vs. Saprissa in CCL
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Shorthanded Montreal Impact ready to switch gears from CCL to MLS opener vs. Revs

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact already have something to celebrate in the 2020 season, advancing to the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals.

But the team can’t rest on its laurels.

That’s because the MLS season opener is here as Bruce Arena and the New England Revolution visit Olympic Stadium Saturday (3 pm ET | TVAS, TSN4 in Canada; MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US). Amar Sejdic, who started both CCL games in midfield, said eliminating Saprissa, despite Montreal’s injury woes, showed the Impact’s grit.

“It shows the togetherness of the team. I think we’re building an important and strong culture,” Sejdic said. “Starting off the year with these first two games, we got the result we wanted away from home in a tough atmosphere. To bring it back home and give the supporters something to look forward to and to show that we’re willing to fight until the last minute.”

Samuel Piette admitted the team was particularly tired following Wednesday night’s game. The Montreal native, who mentioned his surprise at how good a 0-0 home draw felt, said going from CCL to MLS will test the squad.

“I think that everyone was pretty tired after the game and we have to go back to the training ground on Thursday,” Piette said after the match. “It’s tough because you gotta play a game in two, three days. It’s obviously very difficult, but that’s our job and that’s what we gotta do.”

In addition to losing Rudy Camacho in the first leg, Jukka Raitala went down with an injury in the second leg, further thinning the squad’s depth.

“It will be a different game. We will need to recover, we will also need to see who is ready and available, who can start,” Impact coach Thierry Henry said. “It’s not always easy when you look at MLS teams that have the CCL to start the season. Hopefully that won’t happen to us.”

Center back Luis Binks debuted for the Impact in the second leg against Saprissa in favor of the injured Camacho. The 18 year-old Tottenham academy product earned Man of the Match honor and the respect of his teammates.

“He’s a tough lad, you can tell his professionalism,” Sejdic said. “He’s 18, but you can tell he came from a great academy. His head’s on his shoulders, he knows how to play football, he loves to play and he’s a great teammate. He’s a guy that you want to be around with and he held his ground today. He did very well.

With injuries to both Camacho and Raitala, Binks may be called upon once again for the Impact’s MLS opener. He said he’s ready to be a starter for Montreal if Henry gives him the nod once again.

“Hopefully I’ve done well enough and showed [Henry] that I’m ready and that I’m capable of playing in big games,” Binks said. “That’s what I’m here to do.”