MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact will once again embark on a road trip without Ignacio Piatti.
Head coach Remi Garde said Monday his squad will fly to New York and Cincinnati without its best player. The Argentine has been sidelined since March with a knee injury. After recovering from the initial injury, Piatti went down with muscular stiffness during a training session last Tuesday. Piatti trained with his teammates Monday, but is not yet match ready.
“It’s more muscular than the knees,” Garde said about Piatti. “But it can be a consequence of the knees.”
Piatti’s extended absence has an effect on the entire squad. Players such as Saphir Taider — who is currently playing with muscle stiffness — have put in extra effort ever since Piatti’s injury in March.
“His absence is being cruelly felt,” Garde said. “I said it after the [NYCFC game], a guy like Saphir has a really good technical relationship with Nacho on the field and benefitted from his presence that usually attracts one or two players on him to free up his teammates.”
Sagna uncertain, could join team in Cincy
— Tristan D'Amours (@tristandamours) May 6, 2019
Bacary Sagna is also uncertain to fly with the squad. The former French international was running by himself following Monday’s practice session. Garde hinted at a possibility to have Sagna join the squad in Cincinnati should his situation improve.
“Hopefully for one or the other [game] I could rely on him. I don’t know yet, to be honest,” Garde said.
Omar Browne: A first start on the way
Since joining the Impact April 16, Omar Browne has turned heads. The Panamanian scored a game-winning goal in his first appearance and made a strong impression in his second.
Garde enjoyed Browne’s ability to cut in from the right flank and make his way toward the middle. The proud coach added that Browne is slowly but surely getting accustomed to how the Impact operate.
Ring the bell! 🔔
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 28, 2019
“He was in an environment at his old club where he was the best player and probably had a lot of freedom, and now he’s coming in to a squad that has more regulations,” Garde said. “It’s taking a bit of time, but the plan is to use him on his qualities, which are to break the lines on the ball and then play the ball in the spaces.”
Garde said Browne is getting close to earning himself a start.
“I understood this throughout my career: . . . Wanting to play new arrivals right away is rarely giving them a favor,” Garde said. “But yes, he is getting closer to a start.”
The Impact will not come back to Montreal after playing the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday. Instead, the squad will fly directly to Ohio ahead of its first-ever game against expansion side FC Cincinnati.
This won’t be the team’s most arduous road trip, and it isn’t the team’s first road trip this season after playing eight of the first 11 games away from home.
“Going to New York is an easy flight. Then going to Cincinnati a couple days early is fine, and we’ll probably get to train on grass in Cincinnati, so that’ll be nice,” goalkeeper Evan Bush said. “The travel won’t be too bad this week. I think we’ll be prepared for it given the distances that we’ve already gone through this year.”
Garde doubled down on Bush’s feelings.
“It’s always tough situations because we will play very shortly two games in a row, but then I think that it’s not a situation that we don’t don’t know,” Garde said. “We are aware that it’s going to be difficult and the group is ready to play and to fight for points.”