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Montreal Impact trust morale after season-opening road win

March 2, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Montreal Impact midfielder Saphir Taider (8) is congratulated for scoring a goal against the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half at Avaya Stadium. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact players were able to comfortably sleep through the flight home from San Jose. Game one of their six-game road trip to the start of the season ended with a 2-1 comeback win over the Earthquakes.

“The mood was great, but we left really early the next day so there were a lot of sleeping faces,” Impact coach Remi Garde said. “We were really happy to make this long flight with all three points.” 

The bleu-blanc-noir felt the relief of their first win. Among many things, Garde attributed the victory to his team’s morale.

“I saw behaviors on Saturday from players who didn’t start the game or didn’t even see the pitch as if they had scored a goal or made a great save,” Garde said. “This is why I think we play football, why we play a collective sport. This may not last the whole season, but I stressed it after the game, this was one of the reasons why we won this game.” 

Zakaria Diallo was a prominent figure in the Impact’s comeback win. The cherry on the sundae for the French defender was his pass to Saphir Taider which proved to be the game-winning assist. His presence at the back helped.

“He has a different style than Rod [Fanni], but we adapt. I think that the complementarity with Victor Cabrera was very good,” Garde said. “Victor is a real warrior who fights on the pitch which [compliments] Zak’s ability to play out from the back. For now this is what works, but everyone knows that I have options in this sector and I think I will need to have options there at some point.”

Taider opened his 2019 account with the winning goal. This gives the Algerian international a total of eight goal since joining MLS from Bologna in January 2018. The defensive midfielder, who doesn’t pride himself for his offensive prowess, does appreciate being considered a dual threat nowadays.

“It’s like chocolate, when you at some you always want more,” Taider said. “When you score you always want to put in more but it’s not an obsession in my head. I want to have control of the ball and help my teammates score, but if I have the opportunity to score I won’t hold back.”

Choiniere leaves, deals for youngsters, Lovitz contract on ice

Garde announced that homegrown player David Choinere had left the club on Monday. The 22 year-old winger was not re-signed by the club last season, but was invited to training camp.

The team offered Choiniere a one-year deal with the intention to regularly loan him to the Ottawa Fury in the USL. Despite the Impact’s interest, and the Fury’s interest in receiving him on loan, Choiniere turned down the offer. 

Amar Sejdic and Emile Legault, two youngsters who also joined the Impact’s camp, were also offered contracts. According to Garde, the club is waiting on “administrative details” to be finalized before making the announcement official.

Sejdic was the Impact’s second round pick in the 2019 SuperDraft. The Louisville, Kentucky native won the national championship with Maryland in 2018. Legault joined the club as a trialist after spending time with the AJ Auxerre academy in France. 

After a breakout season and his first-ever call up to the US men’s national team, Daniel Lovitz is in the last year of his contract. Rumors had both parties negotiating on a contract extension before the start of the season, but there are no signs of a new deal yet.

“To have that on the horizon for me is super exciting, I’ve never been in that position,” Lovitz said. “But as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t want that to be something that I was dealing with at the start of the season.” 

The fullback added that he would be open to resume contract talks at any point during the season. 

Harry Novillo is still questionable for the Impact’s next game against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium Saturday. Garde said that the Frenchman underwent tests on Monday and they showed that his hamstring injury was healing well. 

“We will follow this all week,” Garde said. “I hope to be counting on him quickly, will it be for next game? It’s still too early to tell.”

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