Impact tactics pay off in season opener

Henry’s tactical formation successful against Revs

A quick look at the Impact’s line-up an hour before kick-off and you would assume that the Montreal team was going to play defensively. A few minutes into the season opener, you quickly realized that wasn’t the case.

“It makes me laugh when people say that,” said head coach Thierry in his postgame press conference, following his first victory at the helm of the Impact. “We defended for the last 10 minutes, but other than that, we attacked, over and over again. Zachary [Brault-Guillard] and Jorge [Corrales] were very high up the pitch.”

The two full-backs were essential to Henry’s plan, widening the pitch to its maximum capacity when the Impact would settle into the opposition’s third. This allowed Henry’s men to enter the box from the sides on multiple occasions, wreaking havoc in New England’s 18-yard box.

Maxi Urruti, for one, came close to finding the net in this situation early in the first half following a piercing run from Brault-Guillard, but his shot was deflected just wide. 

“We were able to find Zachary and Jorge on the flanks,” explained Henry. “They couldn’t figure out who to cover and when. We repeated our positive movement. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to score more in the first half. We could’ve, but it wasn’t the case.”

For Henry and his staff, this tactical animation is easier to achieve with a five-man unit at the back. Once the Impact manages to settle into the opposition’s half of the field, the two full-backs go into full gear, playing as wide as possible.

But for this to be effective, the midfielders have a very important task in the middle and moving forward.

“It’s very important for our midfielders to express themselves, so that we can settle into the opponent’s half, and make the other team run from side to side,” added Henry. “After, our full-backs are able to provide width. We often went through Sam [Piette] and Saphir [Taïder] moving forward, who did a good job helping us get to the other half.”

The Impact will have a week to prepare for its next MLS match against FC Dallas on Saturday, before embarking on a busy week which includes the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals against CD Olimpia at Olympic Stadium, on Tuesday, March 10 at 8pm. Tickets are available here.