MONTREAL — After a three-week rest, the Montreal Impact already have a challenge on their hands to start the second half of their season.
Visiting Stade Saputo on Wednesday night are the rampaging Portland Timbers, winners of four of their last five overall games with two of the wins coming via a 4-0 scoreline.
Remi Garde’s squad has been resting for almost three weeks. A scheduled friendly game against USL Championship affiliate Ottawa Fury set for June 18 was cancelled for lack of players.
“That was a bit disappointing because it would’ve given us some rhythm and a normal preparation week before Portland,” Garde said. “We couldn’t have that, it happens. We tried to make the players work at a maximum rate, but also being reasonable in the sense that it was a recovery break.”
Garde had a lot of respect for the Oregonian visitors. He praised the Timbers’ acquisition of Brian Fernandez, saying that it “brought a breath of fresh air to a team that was already collectively solid.” However, the Frenchman warned that his team should not just zero in on Portland’s newest signing.
“To only focus on Fernandez would be to leave a lot of freedom to Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco, Jeremy Ebobisse or Marvin Loria,” Garde said. “They are a very strong team offensively that also defends well. It will be down to a collective focus when we won’t have the ball. We will need to be very disciplined and focused off the ball”
Bayiha ruled out, question marks around Sagna
Garde officially ruled out Clement Bayiha and Ignacio Piatti ahead of Wednesday’s game. According to Garde, Bayiha has shown signs of progress, but is still not game ready. The 20 year-old had been back to working by himself during team training sessions.
Question marks arise over Bacary Sagna’s availability for the Portland game.The former French international had injured his ankle during the Impact’s 3-0 loss to Orlando City SC on June 1. Sagna was seen following the game wearing an air cast boot, which he kept for a week.
Sagna left the stadium with an air cast on his left ankle/leg. #IMFC
— Tristan D'Amours (@tristandamours) June 1, 2019
When asked who was ruled out for Wednesday night on injury, Garde did not mention Sagna’s name. The fullback seemed less prompt to say if would be available to face the Timbers.
“I don’t know, it’s a delicate subject,” Sagna said. “I’m trying to get my rhythm back. For now I feel fine and after that the coach will see if I’m ready to play.”
Impact acquires international roster spot
— Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) June 25, 2019
The Impact are positioning themselves with less than two weeks to go before the opening of the transfer window.
Montreal acquired an international roster spot from the Colorado Rapids for $100,000 in general allocation money Tuesday. This leaves the team with one open international spot heading into July 9.
“I think that the club is working hard to try and improve the team,” Garde said. “When you have an international roster spot it opens a wide market. This is the target of the trade.”