Fourteen points separate ninth-place Montreal Impact from first-place Columbus Crew SC in the Eastern Conference standings but Montreal head coach Thierry Henry is aiming for all three points when they travel to take on the Supporters' Shield leaders on Wednesday.
The Impact are coming off of a 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena last Saturday that ended their four-game losing streak, while the Crew have earned points in 13 of their last 15 matches.
“We are going to Columbus to try and upset them and try to win games because we need to win,” Henry said in a press conference on Tuesday. “Like I said before, this is a team with a good coach and good players on the bench and on the field. They have a great roster they’ve built. And You have to respect that. That’s why they’re at the top at the minute. They’re really difficult to play against.
"Obviously, [Lucas] Zelarayan is not playing. But when you have a guy that might be coming back like [Darlington] Nagbe and the players they have in midfield, and the guys they have at the back and [Gyasi] Zardes doing what he’s doing at the minute, guys on the side that can dribble, pace, power and they can pass the ball, too. So it’s going to be a tough game as we expect.”
The Impact acquired forward Mason Toye in trade with Minnesota United FC on October 1, in hopes of bolstering an attack that has been outscored 16-6 in their last five games. Henry said through a translator that “Mason [Toye] must work on his fitness since he has not done anything for a bit. We will see who will start tomorrow.”
It’s not likely that Romell Quioto — the club’s leading scorer in 2020 — will be available Wednesday, but there’s a chance they will welcome back central midfielder Saphir Taider, who has contributed four goals and six assists this season.
Henry also expects that winger Ballou Tabla will be on the gameday roster on Wednesday, but don’t count on Tabla playing a full 90. Tabla’s only minutes since he returned to the Impact on a permanent basis in the offseason came on July 9 and the coaching staff wants to be careful about doing too much, too soon.
“He can unbalance teams, and that’s something we currently need," Henry said. "So I hope to see him back as soon as possible. But we have to avoid doing anything and everything that could burn him. Instead, we should wait for him to have the required level of fitness to play or even to start a game. He is a more than interesting player because he can unbalance teams which can allow you to beat the tactics or opposition. If you win your 1-v-1, then it’s easier to make a difference.”