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Montreal Impact’s Piatti, Bojan, Urruti to miss clash with LA Galaxy

Assistant coach Wilfried Nancy admitted that playing winger Orji Okwonkwo at striker is a possibility.

Sep 18, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (10) reacts after a missed goal by a teammate during the first half of the game against the Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship final at Stade Saputo. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact will take on the LA Galaxy without three important pieces of their offensive corps.

Ignacio Piatti, Bojan Krkić and Maxi Urruti did not make the trip to Los Angeles, according to Andy Mailly-Pressoir of TVA Sports. 

Wílmer Cabrera admitted Piatti wasn’t in the plans for the weekend after Wendesday’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC. However, he added that the injuries to Bojan and Urruti during Wednesday’s game could have altered his intentions to keep Piatti in Montreal.

Piatti drove in to Centre Nutrilait, the Impact’s training facility, Thursday not knowing if he would make the trip to SoCal. 

“I came here prepared to travel, we will see,” he said Thursday afternoon. 

Assistant coach Wilfried Nancy echoed Piatti’s words Thursday, saying the staff would sit down with the Argentine and discuss the trip at length before taking off. The Impact used all the time allotted to make the decision. 

Okwonkwo at striker: ‘Why not?’

With the offensive trio north of the border over the weekend and Anthony Jackson-Hamel still unavailable due to injury, Orji Okwonkwo becomes a possibility at center forward. The winger has the necessary physical attributes to be switched into a striker role. 

“Why not?” Nancy said about the position switch. “We’ve been talking about that position for a little while now because he can be an interesting weapon against certain teams we face.” 

The Nigeria youth international ranks second on the Impact with seven goals. Okwonkwo lined up in a central role on three occasions last season with Bologna in Serie A play. 

“Orji can have that possibility to stretch the opposition’s defense,” Nancy said. “We’ll start by thoroughly analyzing the LA Galaxy, but he can be an option.” 

Sagna at center back: ‘Maybe we’ll see him again’

Bacary Sagna started his second game at center back last Wednesday and helped the Impact secure their first clean sheet since Aug. 14. The Impact decided to play the former France international at a position where he has made only a handful of starts.

“When we signed Bacary we knew that he had that versatility. He’s very intelligent and had that experience,” Nancy said. “We decided to [start Sagna at center back] for that game because we knew he could bring that calmness and this energy too.” 

For Sagna, the positional change didn’t affect him much. Normally a fullback, he said it didn’t take long to gain confidence in the center of the back line. 

“I tried to communicate a lot with Victor [Cabrera] on the backline and with the midfield players, sometimes with more success than others. But in general I think it went well and I think I feel quite confident. It’s all about communicating.” 

“The relationship with Victor went really well. Maybe we’ll see him [at center back] again, yes,” Nancy said. “He’s 36, but he doesn’t make his age.” 

Diop back next Wednesday

Nancy confirmed Clément Diop will start in goal for the second leg of the Canadian Championship final. The Impact made the Senegalese international aware that he would be the team’s goalkeeper in the cup competition.

“Clément was very interesting during Canadian Championship games,” Nancy said. “Once again, that was his role, everything was established from the start regarding the goalkeeper hierarchy.” 

Nancy remained evasive regarding the possibility of giving Diop more minutes before the end of the Major League Soccer season. The Frenchman added that the good performances will ultimately make for healthy competition within the club.

“There are three games left. He will play for sure next week.” Nancy said. “So do we stay like this or do we change plans? We’ll see, but for now it’s good because it shows that the competition is still interesting.”

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