“There are explanations, but I don’t want to use them as excuses,” – Rémi Garde
At the end of the first half of Saturday’s game against the New York Red Bulls, the Bleu-blanc-noir seemed to be in a favourable position: after conceding a goal early in the first half, a stunning free-kick from Chilean Jeisson Vargas brought the team level before the break. As the teams headed to the locker rooms with the score tied at one, it seemed the Bleu-blanc-noir was on its way to earning its first ever point at Red Bull Arena.
But a pressure filled second half was a little too much to handle for Montreal, and the Red Bulls were able to pull ahead, eventually adding the insurance marker to make it 3-1 before game’s end.
“I think it was a good learning experience for the group,” said defender Daniel Lovitz. “Unfortunately, it came in the form of a loss, and the nature in which we lost, I don’t think anyone is too pleased with. It’s easy to figure out what we could’ve done better, the more difficult part is to remain positive, and with our group I don’t think it’ll be that hard. We need to move forward and make sure we’re all on the same page.”
The Impact’s task in the Empire State was made a little more difficult when it lost its pillar in its defense, Rod Fanni, to an injury in the first half. The French full-back was replaced in central defense by Jukka Raitala, with Lovitz slotting into the Finn’s position on the wing.
“We kept the same formation even after he was subbed off,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “As we saw in the games he’s played in, Rod has a very strong influence on others. When he’s brutally taken out of the game like that, it has a major impact on the team’s energy and mental stability.”
Missing Taïder in midfield
Rod Fanni wasn’t the only missing piece on Saturday. Saphir Taïder was unavailable, serving an automatic one-game suspension after receiving a red card in the game against New England. Although the Bleu-blanc-noir was able to replace the Algerian’s presence quite well, his absence was a little more evident in the second half, when New York’s pressure started paying dividends in the final third.
“Saphir is someone who loves being on the ball, but who’s also extremely important defensively,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “It’s harder without him because there’s more field to cover, and then when you do get the ball, you’re a little more tired and your ideas aren’t as clear. In that sense, we missed Saphir a lot on Saturday, but at the same time I think it was also a bad day for us.”
The good news is that Saphir will be available for the Impact’s next game, its first at Stade Saputo this year, against the Los Angeles FC, this Saturday at 1pm. Tickets are still available in limited quantity here.