Olivier Tremblay covers the Montreal Impact for MLSsoccer.com.
MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact’s meetings with the Houston Dynamo in 2013 can be split into two sets of circumstances, and they know which they want to replicate this Thursday.
Led by in-form regulars Marco Di Vaio, Justin Mapp, Felipe and Patrice Bernier, the Impact were rampant in their two home games against Houston this season, outscoring them 7-0. But that was in the summer. Montreal then lost 1-0 in Houston on October 4th, the first of four shutout losses in five games to close out their season.
For assistant coach Mauro Biello, that setback was down to Houston adapting.
“Against us, in the first two games, they put pressure higher up on the field,” Biello told reporters on Tuesday. “In that game down there, they waited for us a bit more, with 10 players behind the ball.”
Ricardo Clark scoring the lone goal of the encounter in the sixth minute might have contributed to that, but the underlying message when Montreal talk about that game in Houston still remains: while the Dynamo did adjust, Montreal didn’t. But the Impact have identified some keys from the previous two games that they must apply again: player mobility and ball movement.
“That’s the recipe for us: keeping the ball and playing,” Patrice Bernier told reporters on Wednesday. “They’re a team that plays aggressively, that goes into duels. The more we move the ball around, the less we end up in those kinds of contacts and the more we reap the benefits needed to score goals.”
On the defensive side, meanwhile, more adjustments will be carried out by a somewhat different group than in recent times. While the Impact have ruled out Alessandro Nesta for this Thursday, left back Jeb Brovsky, his fractured toe fully healed, will be available for selection. And even central defender Nelson Rivas will travel with the team and could lend a hand at some point.
“We’re switching up some tactics and making sure that we’re solid defensively,” Brovsky said. “We can’t be afraid to put it all on the line. We can’t sit back and hope for a simple result. We want to go in and we want to get on a roll for the next few weeks.”