Montreal Impact are set to face the New England Revolution for the third time in 2020 this evening, with another regular-season meeting scheduled for October in this most irregular of seasons...
It will mean that each of Toronto FC and New England will have been faced four times each before we get to decision day. For the first time ever the Impact has already faced a Western Conference side in Vancouver Whitecaps three times in one season, and won’t face two clubs from its own Conference at all in Atlanta United and FC Cincinnati.
With the relative lack of variety when it comes to opposition, does it become more challenging for Thierry Henry and his squad, in terms of things becoming tiresome and monotonous?
The coach had this to say yesterday: “No, it is what it is. We have to adjust to the schedule. As you know it’s a weird year this year. We have to adjust to situations. It’s going to be our fifth game in thirteen days [v New England]. We have guys that are injured also. [We’re] Away from home, but there is nothing we can do.”
And Henry recognized the challenges faced by MLS administrators...
“MLS has had to put a schedule out to make sure that everyone is happy. But ultimately we have a game to play tomorrow against a team we played against already twice. There will be a fourth one [v New England]. It is what it is. At the end of the day you have to adapt to the situation.”
The Impact supremo also spoke of the frustration of having to play so many games away from home base and was quick to attribute the conditions to the other two Canadian clubs as well.
“Teams went to the bubble in Orlando way more prepared than us in terms of training sessions. Right now we would like to work on some different type of tactics and whatnot. You cannot do it because you play every three days. When can you work? You cannot!
“You travel to Vancouver, you have to come back here [New Jersey]. When you go back home you have to be in quarantine, which is not ideal because you are not going to be able to train. Then you come back here and you have to be a able to play straight away.
“You have to adapt. Not only for us by the way. The three Canadian teams are going to have to adapt to this situation.
“I can talk about the guys being away from their families. Not being at home. It is not the same thing AT ALL. We have to perform and try to play like this. We play last of the teams the other day. We’re going to play FIRST of the teams tomorrow at five o’clock after playing four games in ten days.
“But it is, what it is.”
This evening’s opposition coach Bruce Arena, expanded with some thoughts of his own on the schedule, but overall feels grateful that soccer continues.
“We’re going to end up playing teams this year, you know, 4 times in the regular-season. And it is a little bit monotonous.
“That’s the reason they expanded the play-offs as well because the schedule is so awkward and unbalanced and yeah, it bothers us.
“When you see the schedule there are going to be five teams in our Conference we don’t play this year. And on top of that whole thing I don’t know how they can think about having a Supporters’ Shield.
“It is a bit crazy, but the one thing I guess you could say is an advantage is that you don’t have to do much scouting, because you have played these teams so many times. You know them inside out, your players know them, so it’s not like we’re starting from scratch. So that’s the easy part.
“It’s unfortunate but having said all of that I think we’re all pleased with the fact that we have a season. Because with the pandemic it’s been a highly unusual year, so we’re kinda’ grateful the fact that we’re playing. Some complaints... but overall we’re pleased to have the opportunity to do what we all like to do.”