Finishing off with a win

Impact returns home after first part of training camp comes to an end

It can’t be easy, playing a game after more than two weeks of intense training under your belt, and it didn’t look easy at times, but Rémi Garde’s men still managed a 2-0 victory yesterday at IMG Academy, in Florida, giving their opponent, Nashville SC, almost no opportunities in the clean sheet.

Not a bad way to end the first part of camp, after previously managing a draw against FC Cincinnati in the Bleu-blanc-noir’s first preseason game. Garde again switched almost his entire starting 11 at the start of the second half, except for centre back Zakaria Diallo, who played the entire 90, notching the game’s opening goal with a sharp strike to the bottom corner as well.

It was the tall centre back’s first goal in an Impact uniform, after missing all of 2018 with an Achilles tendon injury.

“I moved through midfield and there was space,” said Diallo after the win. “I eliminated a player, and no one pressured me, so I took a shot. With a bit of luck, it found the back of the net. Playing 90 minutes after more than two weeks of camp is hard, but I didn’t lose focus and it went well at the end.”

Diallo’s strike was followed by another pretty goal, this time from newcomer Harry Novillo, also scoring his first goal in a Bleu-blanc-noir uniform.

“When I saw Ken on the side, I screamed his name,” said Novillo. “He sent me a strong cross that I managed to chest down, and my first instinct was to shoot. I didn’t have much of an angle, so I waited for one of the players to move a little, then I took a shot and it went in, lucky for me. It’s good because it helps the team, and this is what I’m here for.”

Head coach Rémi Garde was happy to see his newest forward find the back of the net in just his second preseason game, although he was particularly satisfied with his overall effort off the ball as well.

“I expect him to score goals, but not only that,” explained Garde. “It’s important for Harry. Like any forward, he has a thirst for goals. I’m very happy he scored but I’m also very content with the other offensive moves I saw from the team.”

Positive end to part one

The game’s final whistle also brings an end to the first part of the Impact’s training camp, which began on January 21. With many training sessions, team building activities, meals shared and preseason games under their belts, a small break is definitely deserved.

“There are still lots of things to work on,” added Novillo. “We’re only halfway through our camp. A victory like this, knowing we applied what we’ve been doing in training, will encourage us heading into the second part. We’ll try being even more rigorous in our efforts while staying united, like we did against Nashville.”

The team will be back in Montreal on Thursday, only to take off again on Monday, back to Florida, to kick off the second part of this year’s training camp.

“They’re happy of course,” added Garde. “They’ve worked hard, and I know their legs are heavy. Now we go home. They can recharge their batteries with their families, because it’s difficult for all of us to be away for so long. We’ll head back to Tampa afterwards to continue getting stronger together.”