There is an old expression in sports that goes: defence wins championships. If that’s true, then the Montreal Impact may have found the recipe for its future success.
After a solid defensive performance against the New York Red Bulls last Saturday, with the likes of Alessandro Nesta making his MLS debut, and Nelson Rivas returning from injury, the Impact will add to its dominance by starting all three of its former Serie A defenders for the first time Saturday versus Philadelphia.
As a modified left back, Matteo Ferrari, a natural centre back, is expected to line up beside Nesta and Rivas, who shut down French striker Thierry Henry and the rest of the Red Bulls dangerous offence last weekend at Stade Saputo.
“We are seriously looking at playing all three of those guys together,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch. “They are all very smart, so it shouldn’t be that difficult an adjustment for them. We’ve tried to tilt it a little bit so Matteo is not an outright left back in order to use his strengths. I would call it a modified centre back position. I’m very confident he’ll be able to adjust.”
Although Ferrari’s experience at wing back is minimal, he did face some pretty big challenges over his career the few times he did play there.
“I have played there only a couple of times in my career and I will do it again for the team,” said Ferrari. “I played against Arjen Robben (on October 23, 2005, while with Everton versus Chelsea FC in a 1-1 draw), so that was a pretty good test.”
If Ferrari feels a little uncomfortable, imagine how the Union attackers will feel as they barrel towards the Impact goal and look up to see the likes of World Cup winning Alessandro Nesta, former Inter Milan defender Nelson Rivas and former AS Roma centre back Matteo Ferrari staring them down.
Uncomfortable probably is not the right word.