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Impact must adapt to Felipe's absence in Chicago

Olivier Tremblay covers the Montreal Impact for

MONTREAL – The Impact’s lifeline-provider on their last trip to Chicago won’t be available this time.

Felipe’s suspension for this Saturday’s game between the Montreal Impact and the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park becomes a bigger blow when considering the last game between the two teams, on August 10. With the Impact down 2-0 after 25 minutes, Felipe came on as a second-half substitute and swiftly scored, giving Montreal a chance to salvage a point – and they would have, had Chris Rolfe not cleared a stoppage-time Matteo Ferrari header off the line.

But last Saturday, in Montreal’s 3-0 defeat against the Vancouver Whitecaps, referee Jorge Gonzalez determined that Felipe deserved a suspension-inducing yellow card for diving under a Y.P. Lee challenge. This leaves the Impact staff with a call to make: can a teammate simply fill in for Felipe behind league-leading scorer Marco Di Vaio, or is a formation switch required?

“We have several options,” assistant coach Mauro Biello casually told reporters on Thursday. “We tried out one way of playing today, and we saw a number of things. We’ll discuss this in the office: the good things we saw and the not so good things we saw. We’re confident that the player we choose in that situation will do the job.”

Asked about Felipe’s enforced absence, Di Vaio seemed to believe that, while it wouldn’t alter his own play, the team’s approach could change somewhat. With both Andrew Wenger and Daniele Paponi coming off a goalscoring performance in the 2-0 CONCACAF Champions League win over CD Heredia on Tuesday, Di Vaio might not be alone in the front line on Saturday, but more experiments will be held on Friday morning.

“The coach prepares a number of things,” Di Vaio said. “We’ll see what happens until the end of this week. We have to try something new every day, because something different might come up during the game. We have to think about every possible scenario ahead of Saturday’s game.”