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Montreal Impact have ‘nothing to lose’ in road game at Atlanta United

And, Remí Garde weighs in on Ignacio Piatti, Lassi Lappalainen transfer rumors.

Jun 26, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact forward Orji Okwonkwo (18) reacts with teammate s including Saphir Taider (8) and Zakaria Diallo (5) after scoring a goal against the Portland Timbers during the second half at Stade Saputo. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — Head coach Remí Garde confirmed Friday morning that the Montreal Impact will play yet another game without a full bench.

As the club heads down to face Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz stadium, Garde expressed his frustration at the issues regarding his roster.

“I do want to remind that’s it’s been five games that there wasn’t 18 names on the Impact lineup sheet,” Garde said. “At times there are players on the bench that haven’t played at all or that only played with the under 19s.”

Garde also hinted that “some names may be taken off” of the Impact’s squad from Wednesday night. There are indications that one of these players will be Maxi Urruti. The Argentine was missing at Friday morning’s training session.

“It’s the situation for a while now, Garde said. “Obviously the results mask the situation going on internally which is different than the one that is perceived. I hope to quickly regain the players that have left for international duty.”

The Impact may once again use the extreme hardship rule. Luca Ricci, who was the Impact’s short-term loanee on June 5, was seen training with the squad on Friday. Ricci had also been attending training sessions last week.

The opportunity to play Atlanta United without Josef Martínez, who is away on international duty, doesn’t reassure Garde. He believes Frank de Boer’s squad remains a dangerous one and getting any sort of result would be a positive. 

“It’s not the best moment to go there but on another hand we have nothing to lose,” Garde said. “They are the big favorite to win that game. We’re going to give 100 percent and see if we can get something.” 

Rumour mill: Piatti, Lapalainen on the move?

Despite the rumors, Garde expects Ignacio Piatti to return to the Impact lineup following his injury.

Piatti, who has started running with his teammates again, has been linked with a move to Argentine club Independiente. The Impact star player also was linked to his former club, San Lorenzo. However, club president Matias Lammens told TNT Sports that an Independiente offer would be tough to match.

“On a contract standpoint, I believe that he is with us until the end of the season,” Garde said. “I don’t have much more information but as a coach I expect Nacho in shape as soon as possible for the club.”

Bologna FC has made a $500,000 offer for HJK Helsinki winger Lassi Lappalainen, according to Finnish outlet Ilta Sanomat. The intention of the transfer would be for the 20 year-old Finnish international to join the Impact on loan. The Bologna-Montreal consortium would be in a race with Italy’s Chievo Verona and Swiss club Grasshopper for Lappalainen’s services. 

“He’s a young player, very fast, humble. For me he’s a very good young player,” said Jukka Raitala, Lappalainen’s teammate on the Finland national team. “I don’t know if he’s coming here or what his future will be but I know for sure that he’s willing to leave Finland. It’s time for him for the next step.”

“He is a target for a few clubs and probably a club that is close to the Impact,” Garde added. “There is not much more to comment on the situation.”

Lappalainen has scored four goals in all competitions with HJK in 2019. The left winger also racked up two assists in five caps for the Finland men’s national team.

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