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Montreal Impact’s Ignacio Piatti comfortable with new central role

Impact coach Remi Garde also chimes in on February start time for 2020 MLS season.

Jul 27, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (10) plays the ball against Philadelphia Union during the first half at Stade Saputo. (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

MONTREAL — Montreal Impact head coach Remi Garde has moved Ignacio Piatti out of position since the star player returned from injury.

Used to playing at left wing, Piatti is now in a central attacking midfield position in a hybrid formation between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-4-2. In that new role, Piatti swaps with countrymate Maxi Urruti. To his left, plays Impact newcomer Lassi Lappalainen, who scored twice in his debut Saturday.

“For me, it’s easier to play with Maxi up top to help him offensively,” Piatti said, realizing his injury may have cost him physically. “It’s easier for me to be closer to the box and for me now in order to not run as much.”

The Argentine gave a lot of credit to Lappalainen, a 20-year-old Finland international who has only been training with the squad for two weeks.

“I think that Lassi is a great player and he will help us a lot,” Piatti said. “He is very fast. He can play on that side and Orji can play on the other.”

During Thursday’s training session, Piatti jokingly added that after Lappalainen’s performance he wouldn’t be allowed on the left flank anymore. He relishes the challenge of playing a central role as the team heads for the playoffs.

“We did well against Philadelphia. I thought that we could’ve done even more to find space and to be closer to the box,” Piatti said. That’s a decision for Remi (to change the formation) but I feel good at that position.”

For Garde, what is most important is to make sure that Piatti gets back to full form as smoothly as possible. The Frenchman is conscious that playing him in every game could result in another injury.

“He has a rhythm that isn’t one of a player that can play every game and make every trips yet,” Garde said of Piatti. “I talk with Nacho a lot, we’re doing this intelligently. The good news is that he was able to play two games in little time and he’s not in pain.”

Remi Garde on February 2020 start

During All-Star week in Orlando, MLS players association executive director Bob Foose said during a round table with reporters that the 2020 MLS season will start in February. The news didn’t surprise Garde, who is at the helm of a northern MLS team. 

“It’s not going in a direction that could help us, but we’re already in this situation in March, when we can’t play soccer in Montreal,” Garde said. “We have to find another solution. If it happens, we’ll have to find solutions two or three weeks earlier. 

Garde added that the current state of the schedule makes teams play a lot of games in short periods of time. 

“There are more and more franchises, there are more and more dates to include in the calendar,” Garde said. “Do we need to lengthen the season? Should we put them midweek with the reality of traveling here? There is a true reflection to be made.”

The Impact have played five three-game weeks as of now. In total, they will go through seven of them with three coming in the month of August alone. If the team qualifies for the Canadian Championship final, they will add two more three-game weeks in September.

“I only think that everyone wants to watch good games, everyone wants a spectacle but we can’t have 40 players per team,” Garde said. “It’s unmanageable, financially and for other reasons. If we’re going to have reduced squads, we can’t ask them to be performing and to produce a spectacle 80 times a year either, it’s not possible.”

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