Physical training camp paying off for Bleu-blanc-noir
The loss to Columbus on Saturday afternoon was a difficult pill to swallow. But, like head coach Rémi Garde reiterated after the game: “I hate to lose and I’m a bad loser, but this was a very encouraging loss.”
Encouraging in the sense that the Impact dominated the Crew SC in the second half by keeping more possession and looking physically fitter as the game went on. Montreal would go on to equalize, and even hit the crossbar, before conceding a last-minute penalty that gave the Crew SC the victory.
“We attribute it to our fitness,” explained full-back Daniel Lovitz. “I think we’ve seen two games now that we’ve been fitter than the other team and that gives us the confidence to push the game late when we need to. Obviously, we wish we didn’t have to push for the game, we’d like to be playing from in front, not behind, but to know that we have that in our back pocket is huge.”
“Physically we feel great and we know it’s going to pay off at the end of games, like it did against Columbus and Vancouver,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “We’re dominating the last 15-20 minutes of games, especially away from home, which is very important.”
Montreal’s increased level of play during the second half of this year’s games doesn’t only showcase the players’ improved fitness, it also says a lot about the group’s character.
The team went down by two goals in both games this year, before picking up the pace and cutting into its opponents’ leads. Being fitter doesn’t just mean the Impact players will be physically superior near the end of games, it also gives them the confidence to push the game in the final third when they need to, like in Vancouver and Columbus.
“The physical and mental fitness go hand in hand,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “We’ve been down 2-0 in both games and we fought back. Last week we almost got the equalizer, this week we did get it. We’re the assailants in the second half. As the game went on, we put them on their heels. Once again, we get a bit unlucky at the end, but it is nice to see us having that advantage in the end, because we’re going to need that.”