MONTREAL — The last thing that the Montreal Impact needed was an injury on the back line.
One game into their season, head coach Thierry Henry will be without center back Rudy Camacho.
The Frenchman suffered a knee injury in the 18th minute of the Impact’s Concacaf Champions League round of 16 first leg. Camacho will be out four to six weeks.
“These are things that we will have to deal with, it’s not the first time for a team that a player needs to sit out,” Henry said. “It’s not as bad as what was planned. But that’s why we have a team to try and make up for this absence. I hope that he will be able to return as soon as possible.”
Newly-named captain Jukka Raitala noted the timing of the injury will test the squad’s depth early in the season.
Raitala, who is known for his versatility as a defender, is ready to fill in the gaps in the coming month. He started last week’s Champions League game at center back yet played most of last season at left back. When he plays with Finland’s national team, he gets the start at right back.
“It depends what formation we’ll play on Wednesday but I was playing left fullback mostly,” Raitala said. “I think it depends on the formation. Wherever is needed, I’ll go there. For the national team it’s always been right back, I’m ready for everything as long as it’s on the back line.”
Saphir Taider, Luis Binks available for selection
The Impact’s newest signing, center back Luis Binks, has been added to the team’s roster list and will be available for Wednesday’s game. Henry can now count on the England youth international as an option to replace the injured Camacho.
“I feel good. I’ve come in straight away and the season was already going on in England so I’ve come in fit,” Binks said. “I think it was a good preseason for me to gain more fitness in the heat, because obviously in England it was going to be hard to play in the heat.”
The former Tottenham academy player added that if Henry keeps his formation with three center backs, he would see himself playing at the left of the trio. The left-footed 18 year-old also said that he could also see himself playing in the middle of a three-man back line.
“Wednesday a is a big game and hopefully if I’m called upon I think I could do well,” Binks said.
More encouraging news came in the form of Saphir Taider’s health. The Algerian international was recovering from an injury and his fitness levels ruled him out of the CCL first leg. Ahead of the second leg, Taider resumed intense training and is eyeing a start Wednesday.
“I feel good. It’s true that during training camp I had a few physical issues, nothing bad, but that sidelined me,” Taider said. “Now I’ve been training for a few days so I’m doing better”
“I would be available [to play on Wednesday],” Taider said. “Of course I want to play this game, it’s a really important one for the club, the city and our future in the competition. So I keep myself ready”
Is Olympic Stadium Turf An Advantage?
The Impact has a history of playing CCL games in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Its artificial pitch is also part of the history more often than not. The team have been holding training sessions on the Big O’s turf since Saturday.
On the other hand, Deportivo Saprissa played a domestic league game on Saturday evening and are flying to Canada on Monday. The Costa Rican club will only get to train on the surface Tuesday. Getting used to the surface could prove to be an advantage.
“Of course we’ll have more experience when we’ll get to Wednesday,” said Romell Quioto through an interpreter. “It can be an advantage because they won’t be used to it. We’ll see how that plays out on Wednesday.”
Henry added that the turf seemed good to him, walking around in his running shoes. The Frenchman hopes to have a good game against Saprissa, a club he gave a lot of credit to.
“Nothing is done, I told them that there is one more game against a very good team,” Henry said. “They are good tactically. The coach is good, he changed his tactics four times to give us problems.”
“There are still 90 minutes, maybe more if it ends 2-2, so we’ll see what we can do but we need to keep our heads high.”