The Impact face Vancouver Whitecaps for the second time in three days tomorrow evening at BC Place with MLS points and a place in the Canadian Championship final at place.
Montreal must win to secure a final place against the best CanPL can provide, either Forge FC or HFX Wanderers.
The Impact has beaten the ‘Caps twice already this season, has displayed improved form lately and won’t have to face suspended danger-man Lucas Cavallini tomorrow evening, so they may need to ward off complacency to extinguish the challenge of a wounded opponent equally desperate for league points.
“Complacency is not in my vocabulary! declared Thierry Henry. So I never talk about it. I talk about trying to win games and go forward. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. When it doesn’t happen I try to rectify it.
“We are going to play against a team that is difficult to beat, whomever is selected. It’s never easy to beat a team twice in three days. It’s what we are going to try to do but I can assure you we are not saying ‘it’s going to be an easy game’. We are not thinking about having beaten them in two games already. My mind is not there, at all.
“One game at a time. Whatever happened in the past, happened in the past. Now we have to concentrate to play against the same team. They are maybe going to play a different way, I don’t know. You have to respect your opponent and be prepared to play against the opponent whether you have beaten them before or not.”
It sounded as though Henry had not yet decided who the replacement for suspended Emanual Maciel would be, but then again, you wouldn’t expect the coach to be so liberal with his hand anyway.
The Impact leader was not concerned about the emotion and physicality on view in the previous encounter, instead preferring to be strategic in seeking a way to win the game.
“I generally don’t think about that. What I think about this how they can hurt us by the way they play, and how we can hurt them back, the way we play.”
Word from the west suggests that tomorrow night will see a very changed Vancouver line-up. The most obvious quandary for Marc Dos Santos would be in deciding who partners Theo Bair up front in the absence of Cavallini. mountroyalsoccer.com is led to believe it’s between Yordy Reyna or Fredy Montero. Former TFC man Tosaint Ricketts is expected to start on the bench.
Impact captain Jukka Raitala highlights Vancouver’s physical capabilities but is looking forward to the challenge.
“Vancouver is a very physical team with a lot of physical players who like to tackle and fight and those situations create a tension between strikers and defenders. And I expect that to happen tomorrow. I think it is one of their stronger weapons.
“But I think we have to do what we showed a few days ago. We have to stay calm and keep moving the ball well. The surface is very fast you know... so we can, and I think we will, be very dangerous.”
The Impact clearly have sights set on both targets tomorrow evening; 3 MLS points and a spot in the national final. There is no uncertainty on the part of Thierry Henry...
“Regardless of what happens, we just don’t want to end up tying the game, so regardless if it is to go to a final or getting three points in the league, it will be the same approach. That is something we didn’t do very well the other day against Toronto.”
Line-ups (probable) -
VWFC - Hasal - Godoy, Rose, Cornelius, Adnan - Owusu, Baldisimo, Teibert - Milinkovic - Reyna, Bair
IMFC - Diop - Brault-Guillard, Camacho, Binks, Raitala - Wanyama, Sejdic - Piette, Taider, Okwonkwo - Quioto
Match Officials -
Referee - Drew Fisher
Asst Refs - Michael Barwegen, Chantal Boudreau
4th Official - Alain Ruch
VAR - David Gantar