LAS VEGAS, Nevada – The Montreal Impact will play its first preseason game in 2018, this Saturday at 11pm (ET), against the newest USL team, the Las Vegas Lights FC, at Cashman Field. This will be the home team’s first game in its history.
“I’m expecting to see some of the game principles we’ve worked on together,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “We’ve worked on fitness, obviously, because it’s important after having a long time off, but we’ve started working on offensive and defensive principles as well. I’m expecting to see that on the field on certain sequences. The objective is to see how we react to opposition and see every player’s potential in real conditions.”
First look at the Garde era
Although it’s barely been two weeks since the beginning of training camp, it will already be possible to see certain changes in Montreal’s style of play: 10 new players have joined the Impact this offseason, and Rémi Garde and his technical staff have already started implementing their tactical principles in training.
“Our sessions have gotten a little more tactical lately because we want to integrate the coach’s plan and play the way he wants us to play,” explained winger Michael Petrasso. “I think the team is already getting used to his style. We’re going to continue to improve and be better structured over the next few games.”
Preseason preparations are going well, and the players are already feeling the results of the harsh physical training asked of them. It goes without saying that this first preseason game is more than welcome, especially to determine each player’s progression.
“I’m excited for the first preseason game,” said defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguère. “We’ve worked hard since the beginning of camp and now we’re coming into a game situation where everyone will want to prove themselves. Nothing is won yet, it’s a new coaching staff. We want to show what we can do on the field against an opponent.”
New head coach, new team
On top of the arrival of Rémi Garde, goalkeeper coach Joël Bats, assistant coach Maxence Flachez and fitness coach Robert Duverne, 10 new faces make their debut in the Montreal Impact locker room. New Designated Player Saphir Taïder joined the Impact from Bologna FC 1909; former Academy goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu is back with the bleu-blanc-noir family after a few years at the University of New Mexico, and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère and James Pantemis were promoted from the Academy to the first team; Canadian internationals and wingers Raheem Edwards and Michael Petrasso will defend the colours of the Quebec metropolis; goalkeeper Clément Diop and center back Zakaria Diallo, both French-Senegalese, will solidify the Impact defensively, just like Finland international Jukka Raitala; finally, the young, attack-minded Chilean Jeisson Vargas also joined the team.
The Impact will play a total of five preseason games, including two against USL clubs. After its stay in Vegas, the Montreal squad will fly to Florida, where it will face the Chicago Fire on Wednesday, February 14, at 7pm at IMG Academy, the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, February 17 at 7:30pm at Al Lang Stadium, the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, February 21 at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex and finally, New York City FC on Saturday, February 24 at 5pm at Al Lang Stadium.
The team will kick off its season with two games on the road, in Vancouver and Columbus, before playing its home opener on Saturday, March 17, at 3pm, at Olympic Stadium, against Canadian rival Toronto FC.