Montreal Impact missing two key players for game in Kansas City - InfoNews

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Montreal Impact missing two key players for game in Kansas City

Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (10) leaps over San Jose Earthquakes defender Harold Cummings (31) during the second half of an MLS soccer match in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, March 2, 2019. The Montreal Impact's depth will be tested for the first time this season when the MLS team travels to Kansas City without two of its top players. The Impact face Sporting Kansas City in MLS action on Saturday afternoon without crafty midfielder Ignacio Piatti (knee injury) and reliable defender Zakaria Diallo (suspension). It is Montreal's fourth consecutive road game to start the season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Tony Avelar
March 29, 2019 - 8:01 AM

MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact's depth will be tested for the first time this season when the MLS team travels to Kansas City without two of its top players.

The Impact face Sporting Kansas City in MLS action on Saturday without crafty midfielder Ignacio Piatti (knee injury) and reliable defender Zakaria Diallo (suspension). It is Montreal's fourth consecutive road game to start the season.

"We have a system now that doesn't rely so much on one player," said goalkeeper Evan Bush. "We showed in some of the pre-season games this year that if we're missing certain guys, then we have other guys that can fill the position."

Diallo will serve a one-game suspension for pushing Dom Dwyer to the ground late in stoppage time in Montreal's 3-1 victory over Orlando City SC two weeks ago. Diallo was shown a straight red card.

Piatti suffered a knee injury earlier in that same game. The Argentine fell awkwardly after City defender Ruan stepped on his right foot.

Piatti has not practised with his teammates since then. He is tied for the MLS lead in goals with three.

"He's a massive part of what we do," Bush said of Piatti. "We'll certainly miss him, there's no doubt about that, but the system lends itself to being able to overcome some stuff like that."

Added Impact coach Remi Garde: "It's not like everything crumbles when (Piatti) doesn't play. We can't forget that there's an entire team behind this guy."

Garde will need to juggle his roster to fill the holes in his starting 11.

The obvious choice to replace Diallo at the back is French central defender Rudy Camacho, who has not played this year despite a strong training camp. Finnish defender Jukka Raitala, who signed a one-year contract extension earlier this week, also could get the start.

Though replacing Piatti is no easy feat, the task will likely fall to newcomer Harry Novillo, who saw his first MLS action as a substitute against Orlando. Novillo earned an assist on Montreal's third goal after coming off the bench in the 74th minute. The Martinique international has been training on the left wing all week.

"Whether the coach starts me or not, I'm going to play this game with confidence and no apprehension," said Novillo, who was acquired in the off-season. "I'm just going to play the football that I know."

Garde will also need to determine if the players who were away on international duty last week — Samuel Piette (Canada), Saphir Taider (Algeria), Daniel Lovitz (U.S.) and Orji Okwonkwo (Nigeria) — will be fit to play.

"I don't have all my players at this moment," Garde said on Thursday. "Okwonkwo is not here right now. I'm not worried because this team has a good foundation. But for sure with players all around the world — we don't know what they ate, how they trained, how they travelled, where they slept — that's a lot of uncertainty when preparing for a game at this level.”

Saturday's match features a Sporting Kansas City side (1-1-1) that is unbeaten at home this year in all competitions. Including their ongoing CONCACAF Champions League run, Kansas City is 3-0-0 at Children's Mercy Park while outscoring opponents 8-0.

Sporting KC also is unbeaten in seven consecutive regular season home games dating back to July of last season.

A win for the Impact (2-1-0) on Saturday would be the best start to a season for the club since 2013, when Montreal won the first four games of the new campaign.

Montreal's first two wins of this season came on the road in San Jose and Orlando. Garde's men secured won only three road games all of last season.

"We are a team that's travelling every week, we're playing the first six games away," said Novillo. "The international break was a good moment for us to rest a little bit. There's a lot of travelling. For the body, it's really destabilizing. But the club and the staff are managing it really well."

MONTREAL IMPACT (2-1-0) at SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-1-1)

Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, Children's Mercy Park

LONE MEETING: This is the only time Montreal faces Kansas City this season.

IRON MAN: Sporting KC defender and captain Matt Besler is the only player to play every single minute of his team's seven games this year (including Champions League).

BALANCING ACT: Kansas City plays five games in the next 16 days as it continues to juggle MLS and Champions League matches. Kansas City is in the semifinals of the Champions League opposing Mexican powerhouse Monterrey.

HARD ROAD AHEAD: After Sporting KC, Montreal plays two more road games before finally hosting a match at Saputo Stadium. The Impact face New York City FC on April 6 followed by current league leaders D.C. United on April 9. The home opener is April 13 against Columbus.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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