A midweek CONCACAF Champions League tie already limits your preparation time for the weekend. A faulty plane can cut it even shorter.
An engine issue on the Montreal Impact’s chartered aircraft forced them to stay an extra night in Guatemala City after their 1-0 CCL loss to Heredia on Wednesday night. Training at 6 PM was thus called off on Thursday, and the Impact (11-7-5, 38 points) only had Friday’s practice to get ready for an important game against the Houston Dynamo (10-7-6, 36 points), who could leapfrog them in the Eastern Conference standings with a win on Saturday at Stade Saputo.
“Obviously, there was a little hiccup coming back, but those are things you have to deal with,” defender Jeb Brovsky told reporters. “You have to make sure to get in bed, eat right. It’s almost individual at this point. There’s very little you can do as a squad to make sure that everyone’s ready. We need to be professional and be ready.”
The session was also the only opportunity for the players who did travel to Guatemala to catch up with their teammates that stayed in Montreal. Patrice Bernier, Alessandro Nesta, Marco Di Vaio and Matteo Ferrari, among others, all remained home for health and fitness reasons.
The Montreal staff thus put their players through a more detailed pregame video session, the lessons from which were then applied on the field so Montreal, as Brovsky said, can “put some padding in the standings.”
“We did a lot of tactical work today, especially how we’re going to play [on Saturday],” assistant coach Mauro Biello said. “The players who stayed back did physical work and had a week to recuperate. It’s an important game. These players already have some rhythm in their legs. It’s important to have a good start to the game against a team that’s been doing well for a while.”
Biello himself will be overlooking these early stages, as a two-game ban starts this Saturday for head coach Marco Schällibaum. Schällibaum might be missing his fourth game this season, but the players stand behind him, said Brovsky, who doesn’t believe the Swiss coach’s absence will make things easier for the Dynamo.
“It’s difficult, but it’s not, at the same time,” Brovsky said. “You still get him all week, you go through tactics. We know, as professionals, what we have to do on Saturday. It shouldn’t make a big difference, but it’s always nice to have him firing us up on the sidelines.”