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Montreal Impact set to take on final stretch after international break

Ignacio Piatti inching closer to a return, Jukka Raitala, Samuel Piette held positive international breaks

Aug 7, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (10) celebrates his goal against Calvary FC with teammates during the second half at Stade Saputo. (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — With the international break now in its last days, the Montreal Impact are set to start the home stretch of their season.

Wilmer Cabrera’s side has four MLS games and the two-legged Canadian Championship final left to play. Starting with a Saturday night matchup against FC Cincinnati, the Impact will want to show what they’ve been working on during their break. 

One of the things that Cabrera worked on was how his team performs on set pieces both offensively and defensively.

“The team was giving up a lot of goals on set-pieces,” he said. “We also gave one up against D.C. United so it doesn’t mean that we’ve fixed that. We need to work on that.”

More specifically, the squad spent time working around the Impact’s height disadvantage on corner kicks. During Thursday’s session, Cabrera’s squad practiced taking short corner kicks with Saphir Taider leaving the ball for Bojan Krkic.

“When you are shorter than most of your opponents then you know that they will be confident,” Cabrera said. “So we need to balance somehow and we need to work so that we protect each other and create more confidence in our players.”

Possible returns for Piatti, Fanni

Absent since Aug. 10 due to injury, Ignacio Piatti has been practicing with the team during the break. The Argentine was playing during an 11-on-11 session on Thursday morning’s practice.

“He’s been practicing with the team, he’s been doing very well,” Cabrera said. “As you saw, he’s got a really good spirit to play. We still need to wait one day.”

Rod Fanni had also been training with the squad during the break. The former French international has yet to play since resigning on Aug. 26.

Cabrera was confident when asked about Fanni despite being paired with Victor Cabrera in the B squad during Thursday’s 11-on-11 session. The A squad’s central defence pairing featured Jukka Raitala alongside Rudy Camacho. 

“Rod is trying to put himself ready, the sad part is that he’s not 15-years old,” said W. Cabrera. “But he’s a really good professional, excellent player and has a good mentality. So he’s going to be sooner that we think.

“I have to wait until (Friday). I’ve been in this sport for a long time and a lot of things happen on Fridays and I don’t want to make assessments.”

Canada eyeing USMNT

Samuel Piette and the Canadian men’s national team started Concacaf Nations League play with two wins over Cuba. The Canadians started off with a 6-0 win at BMO Field and picked up a 1-0 result in the Cayman Islands.

“We’re in a great moment right now,” Piette said. “We needed to bounce back from that disappointing loss (against Haiti) in the Gold Cup and I think we responded well with that 6-0 at home.”

Canada’s next opponent in Nations League play the U.S. men’s national team. Gregg Berhalter’s side had a difficult set of friendlies with a 3-0 loss to Mexico and a 1-1 draw with Uruguay. Piette admitted that the USMNT played against tougher opposition but added that all of his teammates are excited to play them in October.

“I think if there’s a time to beat them, it’s right now,” Piette said. “I think it hasn’t happened in over 20 years so I think now is the best time to make it happen.”

Finland inching closer to Euro 2020

The Finland men’s national team, which both Jukka Raitala and Lassi Lappalainen feature in, are closer than ever to a first Euro presence. After a 1-0 win against Greece and a 2-1 loss to Italy, the Finns are second in their Euro 2020 qualifier group.

“There’s still four games to go but we played ourselves in a great position so that it’s in our own hands,” said Raitala. 

For the defender, there is a sense back home that the national team could finally qualify for a major competition.

“There is a big hype,” said Raitala. “If you compare from maybe two years ago it was pretty negative, we didn’t get good results. And now are behind us and it gives us a lot of good feelings for the team. Now it’s going great but there is still a long road to go.”

 

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