Olivier Tremblay covers the Montreal Impact for MLSsoccer.com
MONTREAL – Expect a somewhat different Impact in Guatemala on Wednesday.
Midfielder Patrice Bernier, forward Marco Di Vaio and defender Alessandro Nesta are all among the players that stayed in Montreal on Monday afternoon while their teammates travelled to Guatemala City for this Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League encounter with CD Heredia (10 pm ET, Sportsnet/TVA Sports), a “very tough and physical team” according to Montreal head coach Marco Schällibaum.
Since Heredia’s ground doesn’t meet CONCACAF requirements, the game will take place at the home of current Guatemalan champions Comunicaciones, Estadio Cementos Progreso. Along with the lengthy journey to Guatemala and next Saturday’s MLS game against the Houston Dynamo, the stadium’s artificial turf was a factor in the decision to rest a number of players.
“Some will stay here to keep some freshness, particularly older players,” Schällibaum told reporters. “We have to keep them here so they can be ready for Saturday. We have three games in a week, and with the artificial turf, the older you get, the more fatigue you pick up when you play on turf.”
With Nesta out of the equation, it would seem that the door has opened for center back Adrián López to log his first minutes. López, 26, has only made an MLS Reserve League debut so far as he recently struggled with an adductor injury.
Whether López gets significant playing time will depend on how much Schällibaum decides to rotate the squad, as he will count on several options in the center of defense. Either way, the Spaniard is ready to help Montreal increase their three-point lead atop Group 5 after a 1-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes on August 7.
“It’s been three weeks, so I’m getting into a rhythm,” he said on Monday. “I think that the team is working very well, so I am getting used to their work. … Right now, I just need matches. I’m ready to play, I just need matches to get back to my top fitness.”