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Impact cautious against familiar opponent

Change of coach for Lions can energize squad

Just 10 days after the Montreal Impact handed Orlando City SC a fifth straight loss at Stade Saputo, beating the Lions 3-0 last Wednesday night, the two teams will be at it again, this time in the Sunshine State, Saturday at 7:30pm (TVA Sports, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690).

If the Bleu-blanc-noir will be familiar with the Floridian team, there is one important change it’ll need to be wary of: Orlando parted ways with head coach Jason Kreis after its loss to the Impact, with assistant coach Bobby Murphy taking up head coaching duties while they search for a replacement.

“I don’t think it changes anything for us,” said defender Daniel Lovitz. “That’s their business. Sometimes, a group under new management tends to have a bit more energy, so we’ll be prepared for that. More than anything we’re staying focused on ourselves and what we can control.”

Orlando City SC is currently occupying the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With the win last Wednesday, the Impact are within just four points of its next opponent and can significantly close that gap with another win this weekend.

“That’s in the back of our mind, but at the end of the day we’re still not in the best position,” added Lovitz. “The theme of how we prepare is to focus on each game, and how we’re going to progress 90 minutes at a time. This is just the next step. We’ll do everything we can to make sure we put up a good performance again.”

On the rise

A difficult stretch seems to be coming to an end for the Impact; the Bleu-blanc-noir has won two of its last three games and played a good road game in Texas against FC Dallas, despite suffering a loss.

“It’s encouraging, not only for me but for the players as well, because it values our work, our philosophy, and our project that we’re trying to put in place,” said head coach Rémi Garde. “When success doesn’t come, and the results aren’t there, it can be complicated and difficult for everyone.”

Despite the obvious temptation to look at the standings and see only a four-point difference between the two teams, head coach Rémi Garde prefers focusing on the team’s improved play, and on the fact that it needs to perform this way consistently to have an impact in the Eastern Conference.

“Excluding the math, if we want to tell ourselves that this game is a turning point, it can be so in the sense that we need to capitalize on what we did well in our last three games,” added Garde. “I hope we can build on the result we just had, and on the fact that we haven’t conceded in the run of play in three games. It’s on us to build on that.”

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