The arduous task of replacing Piette

Piette’s ironman streak over at 51 games

On the Impact’s present-day roster, only five players have ever played a game in an Impact uniform without Samuel Piette on the field. You can probably guess them off the top of your head: goalkeeper Evan Bush (obviously), defenders Daniel Lovitz and Victor Cabrera, midfielder Ignacio Piatti, and finally, striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel.

Any other player that’s represented the Impact on the current roster has done so with the Canadian international in his usual role, in front of the centre backs.

But after receiving his fifth yellow card of the 2019 campaign against the New England Revolution, Piette will be forced to stay behind when the team visits Los Angeles FC this Friday, putting an end to his sequence of 51 consecutive starts, a club record.

“Sam, he’s kind of like the team fossil,” said right-back Bacary Sagna. “He doesn’t move out of position and he brings so much to the team. He always gives his best and wants to do good for those around him. We’ll have to figure it out without him. That being said, it will give the opportunity for those around him to prove themselves.”

Not much changes for Rémi Garde’s men, however. Despite the importance Piette represents, the team has become used to facing adversity – playing the majority of its games on the road thus far, most without Nacho Piatti, who made his return last weekend after a 10-game absence – and will approach this first-ever game at Banc of California Stadium as it’s approached all games all year.

“Sam is very important,” explained centre back Jukka Raitala. “That being said, Nacho was out for a while and we did a really good job without him. For me, when one guy is out, someone needs to step in and replace him. We have a good roster with a lot of good players.”

Will Krolicki see minutes?

With Piette suspended for the game against LAFC, it may give Ken Krolicki, who missed the beginning of the season after undergoing elbow surgery, the chance to play some minutes for the first time in 2019. The young midfielder has been included in the 18 in the past four games and has been working hard in training to try and get back into the starting line-up.

“Ken’s been working hard since he showed up last year,” said full-back Daniel Lovitz. “It’s been a long road for him, but he’s been incredibly professional, and I think he’s just about ready. He’s picked up right where he’s left off and we’re excited for him to get back. “

After being selected in the third round of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, Krolicki started 24 games for the Montreal club last season, including 18 starts, becoming a vital part of midfield throughout the campaign. 

“He seems to be back to normal,” added Raitala. “You can see the hunger he has to improve and fight for his spot in the team. His opportunity will come sooner or later, which is why he always needs to stay focused and continue working hard.”