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Montreal Impact prepare for altitude challenge at Colorado Rapids

Zakaria Diallo: “I think that the squad is filled with confidence for the next game.”

Jul 27, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact midfield Lassi Lappalainen (21) (right) celebrates his goal against Philadelphia Union with teammates during the first half at Stade Saputo. (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact have started their week with an interesting challenge at hand.

After a rollercoaster three-game week, the Impact now face the cruelty of altitude. Montreal will head out west for the first time since losing 4-1 to LAFC in May to take on the Colorado Rapids.

“We talked about that with my fitness coach and we’ll try to adapt as much as we can,” Montreal coach Remi Garde said. “It’s altitude and we need to cope with this.”

The Impact will travel to Colorado Thursday, a full day earlier than the team’s usual road game schedule. Garde and his staff hope their team will be able to acclimatize to the altitude with a training session planned for Friday in Denver.

Impact players endured a Tuesday morning session in the humidity of the Montreal summer. For Evan Bush, it can’t really translate to the reality of playing at Dick’s Sporting Good Park.

“I guess you can translate it to suffering a little bit, but it’s different for sure,” Bush said. “It’s something that hopefully the guys are prepared for. I know that the guys that have been around and played there understand what the conditions are. But sometimes the new guys, they don’t understand.”

Impact ‘filled with confidence’ following three-game week

The Impact started last week with a fourth straight 2-1 loss in MLS play away to Columbus Crew SC. After that, Montreal advanced to the Canadian Championship semifinals midweek and closed off with a 4-0 win to the Philadelphia Union

In the process, the Impact regained the Ignacio Piatti’s services and added Lassi Lappalainen. To top it off, the 20-year-old Finn was named MLS Player of the Week.

“It felt like a big release,” Bush said. “I think that the way it happened, opening each half with a goal, when we hadn’t started games or halves all that well in the last four-five weeks.”

One of these factors was Lappalainen, who scored within four minutes of the opening whistle and seconds after the second half started. However, Bush offered his praise of the newcomer’s overall performance during the week that was especially helpful.

“Obviously Lassi adds a lot going forward but I think even more importantly for us, he’s an honest worker and he defended.” Bush said. “He stayed in the shape that we asked him to be in and with the structure to our team, which then let us be able to take advantage of the situation when we got the ball and he certainly did that.”

For Zakaria Diallo, having Piatti back in the starting XI really aided the team in a time of need. He believed the Impact are out of their slump and ready for the rest of the season.  

“That win did a lot of good for everyone after four losses, Diallo said. “Nacho’s return also brought a lot of confidence to the squad, we’ve been waiting for him for a long time. I think that the squad is filled with confidence for the next game.”

Homegrown Game: Garde proud of Bayiha, Choiniere (and Kinumbe) 

The Impact had two players selected for the MLS Homegrown Game and Garde took time to credit Mathieu Choiniere and Clement Bayiha for being selected. He also wanted to give praise to Daniel Kinumbe, who had to forfeit his presence due to injury. 

Most of all, Garde wanted to highlight the three nominations are products of the club’s academy. 

“(It’s a good sign for) not only me but the entire club. All of the coaches that have worked with these kids, I should say, they aren’t adults yet,” Garde said. “All the coaching staff of the Impact Academy can be very proud of this. It’s a good achievement for the academy and I hope that they will play.” 

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