The members of the Impact will certainly have a bit of an unreal moment on Sunday night as they will host the Philadelphia Union … at Red Bull Arena.
Pandemic and strict rules at the Canadian border oblige, Canadian teams are forced into exile to continue the 2020 season.
For the next three meetings, Thierry Henry and his men will be on the East Coast of the United States, where they will also visit the New England Revolution in addition to hosting the New York Red Bulls … in their own home, the Red Bull Arena. You can not make that up.
In addition to not really being at home, the Bleu-blanc-noir will have to face one of the best teams in MLS, the Union (6-2-3), which has suffered only two losses this season.
What's more, the Philadelphia team present the Garber Tour's third defense with just ten goals against. It really won't be an easy game for the Montrealers.
For Thierry Henry, it will be a return to a stadium he knows since he wore the colors of the New York Red Bulls.
“For me, personally, going back there is going to mean something to me because I played there for four and a half years. ”
But it stops there because for the rest, it is not likely to change much, according to him.
“For my team, no one has played for the Red Bulls, and I'm a coach now. So it has nothing to do with it. ”
Henry admits, however, that everyone would have preferred, by far, to play this game at Stade Saputo.
“Of course it would have been better to stay at home, but you have to respect the regulations that are in place now. We do not have the possibility of staying at home, unlike the American teams, which can stay in their train. ”
“It will be very difficult to feel at home because there will be no fans. When we played in front of only 250 fans at Stade Saputo, it was still home, we felt at home, ”said Luis Binks for his part.
The young England full-back admits that the situation does not please anyone, especially some teammates who have families.
“It's not ideal, nobody wants that, but we want to play games. It's not very difficult for a guy like me who is alone in Montreal, but for those who have just had children like Sam [Samuel Pierre], Saph [Saphir Taïder] and Rudy [Camacho], it will be more complicated. . ”
The team will have to make do without Emanuel Maciel and Rudy Camacho. The first will serve the second game of his suspension resulting from a red card against the Whitecaps last Sunday.
The second is also suspended for receiving a red card in Wednesday's game.
And their absence will force Thierry Henry to review his copy. And this is especially true in the case of Camacho, center-back who was replaced by Rod Fanni on Wednesday night.
But lo and behold, the 38-year-old veteran and oldest player in MLS has played little this season. It would be a bit risky to throw him into the fray against the Union.
“We don't know yet who will play. We worked this morning to see how we're going to play, ”Henry said during his video press briefing on Saturday.
One thing is certain, however, Luis Binks will be at his post once again even if the matches follow each other quickly.
“I have no reason to be tired, I am young and I feel good. If I can play all the games, I'll be happy. ”
Wednesday's game against the New England Revolution, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., was moved up to 5 p.m.
The Union remains cautious
Jim Curtin knows full well that the Impact has not had an easy week, but he is not sure when it comes to analyzing his opponent.
“It is no secret that they recently played several thousand kilometers and that they must now play in a stadium which is not theirs,” said the head coach of the Union de Philadelphia during a video conference.
“It's a lot of adjustments for them and it's not easy. But they have a good squad with depth.
“But it is true that the demands on players are high for all players in the league right now and we can see that there are starting to be more injuries. ”
Moreover, even if his team had a full week to prepare for this meeting while the Bleu-blanc-noir played on the other side of the continent, Curtin believes that the Impact players may have a motivating element. which escapes observers.
“I'm sure they're excited not to face Toronto and Vancouver, so they're definitely going to be motivated. They are probably tired of facing these two teams. ”
He further noted that the way this team is being run makes it difficult to face, even for a team that ranks second in the Eastern Conference.
“Thierry Henry knew how to organize this team well and it is difficult to fold. His team were dangerous in the attacking zone, so we will have our hands full. ”
The Union has been a nice surprise in MLS for a few years. In fact, we should perhaps no longer speak of surprises.
This team is on the rise and Jim Curtin is doing a really good job of advancing a group of young players who are surrounded by good veterans.
But it is a formation which commits a lot of faults and which has already collected around thirty yellow cards. In comparison, the Impact received only 15.
Curtin however lives very well with the combative and abrasive side of his group.
“We received a lot of yellow cards and that's fine with me, although I would prefer that we hadn't received the more unnecessary ones for arguing with the official. ”
Curtin has respect for Henry
Jim Curtin seems to be a very sympathetic and respectful man. He did not hesitate to praise his counterpart Thierry Henry.
“When we talk about Thierry Henry, we are talking about an icon of our sport. I think he believes in MLS as well as American and Canadian players which says a lot about a coach with his pedigree.
“In the brief interactions I had with him, he's a smart man who respects the game and he's a winner. ”
A good preparation
While the Impact played in Vancouver in the middle of the week, the Union has not played since last Saturday.
“I'm certainly happy to have a full week to prepare the team, but if we look at our performances over the last few years, we are managing the games played on Wednesdays quite well,” said Jim Curtin.
“We like the rhythm imposed by these midweek games because our team reacts well to them. ”