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Montreal Impact have ‘no choice but to win’ to make MLS Cup playoffs

Bacary Sagna: ‘We put ourselves in this situation.’

Aug 10, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Montreal Impact defender Bacary Sagna (33) celebrates his goal against the Chicago Fire during the second half at SeatGeek Stadium. The Fire won 3-2. (Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — Wilmer Cabrera’s mentality with the Montreal Impact is simple: Every single game will be the most important game of the season.

“That’s the attitude and that’s the approach,” Cabrera said following Monday morning’s training session.

Following a 2-1 loss to rivals Toronto FC, the Impact find themselves out of the playoff picture for the first time this season. Bacary Sagna blamed his team’s attitude following the Impact’s opening goal for the loss.

“At the minute we lack confidence; I think that’s why we lost the game,” Sagna said. “We managed to have control of the game during the first half; they weren’t too dangerous. We were facing a good team, of course, and as soon as we scored the goal we tried to stay back. But it’s not the right solution when you play against such a good team and such good players.” 

Sagna refused to admit the team is feeling a sense of urgency. However, he conceded the Impact know what situation they are into and also know what to do to get out of it.

“We know [that there is no leeway], but we put ourselves in these conditions,” said Sagna. “Now there is no choice but to win. We need to play to win. Maybe before we were overthinking and maybe now we won’t do that as much because we’re forced to win.” 

Playing forward

The Impact’s new head coach has been approaching the situation with positivity. Cabrera believes his squad can achieve the goals it set in February: make the playoffs and win the Voyageurs Cup. The one aspect of which Cabrera has been critical is his team’s reticence to push forward. 

“I think we’re passing the ball more to our goalkeeper than we are trying to score goals,” Cabrera said. “This is something that’s been happening and I think we need to change that.”

For Cabrera, leaving the ball to the goalkeeper makes them forget about the main aspect of their job: stopping shots. 

“I think that when you pass the ball to the goalkeeper too much it means that you’re giving every responsibility to him instead of you taking the responsibility,” he said. “I want our field players to take full responsibility and to take more risks going forward and to stop passing the ball to the goalkeeper.”

“When you pass the ball so many times to the goalkeeper what you’re bringing is pressure. What you’re bringing is motivation to the other team to say, ‘You know what, let’s go over there,'” he added.

Injury list: Piette nearing a return

Samuel Piette was back in full training with the squad Monday morning for the first time since his adductor injury in early August. The midfielder had taken part in a light training session Sunday during the Impact’s meet-the-fans event. 

Piette had a Wednesday return in mind as the Impact will host the Vancouver Whitecaps at Stade Saputo. Cabrera remained cautious to confirm Piette’s presence in the starting XI. 

“The good news is that you saw Sam practicing. He’s ready, we’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Cabrera said. “We take it one day at a time.” 

Anthony Jackson-Hamel’s situation doesn’t seem as bright as Piette’s. The striker had to be substituted off on a stretcher during Saturday’s game. 

“He is right now going to the doctor,” Cabrera said. “We’re waiting, hopefully we’ll have good news, but the way it looked, it didn’t look good.” 

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