MONTREAL – Will Joey Saputo’s show of confidence yield dividends this Saturday?
In the wake of his team’s 4-0 loss at New York Red Bulls, the Impact president moved his mid-season press conference from Monday to Wednesday so he could deliver a clear message to his players: All good teams go through tough times. You are a good team. The club supports you.
Fans will get to measure the effects of the president’s pep talk this Saturday when FC Dallas, who are winless in seven games themselves, pay a visit to Stade Saputo. In the meantime, though, his words already seem to have reinvigorated the players.
“It’s nice to know, because ultimately, as players, we want to win for the club, for the president and the fans,” team captain Davy Arnaud told reporters on Thursday. “For [Saputo] to come and say that to us, it helps. It makes you want to win for him even more. I know that every guy in the room wants to win for Joey and for the club, because we take pride in this.”
A family issue prevented goalkeeper Troy Perkins from attending the meeting with Saputo, but he too suggested that fighting for the jersey was key to getting back on the right track.
“We love this club,” Perkins said. “I don’t think there are too many guys on this field that don’t want to bleed for this team.”
Fixing Montreal’s hemorrhaging defense will be crucial as well. 12 goals conceded in the past four games is a concern that the Impact hope will fade through organization, discipline and “wanting to prove a point,” as Arnaud put it.
Head coach Marco Schällibaum has also dropped a hint that he may want his team to play a more pragmatic game, like the early-season Impact did.
“I’m not panicking, and neither are Joey and Nick [De Santis, Impact sporting director],” Schällibaum said. “We’re aware that we haven’t picked up enough points [in the last games]. Maybe we should play less pretty soccer and get three points. I’d rather have that than maybe play pretty and get only one point.”