Impact take on the Columbus Crew on Sunday, looking to hold on to first place in the East. The game was initially scheduled for Saturday but was postponed because of a snowstorm.
MONTREAL, QC -With 15 to 20 centimetres of snow hitting the Montreal area on Friday, the Montreal Impact’s game with the Columbus Crew on Saturday was postponed until Sunday at noon. Most of, if not all, the snow which enveloped the field and stands at Saputo Stadium will be cleared by Sunday, but the Impact will still need to be able to cope with less than ideal playing conditions in what will be their first home game outdoors.
The Impact were forced to train indoors on Friday and Saturday as it made its final preparations for Sunday’s league encounter and even practiced with an orange ball on Friday, similar to what could be used against Columbus for visibility's sake.
Captain Davy Arnaud told assembled reporters following the training session that he doesn’t expect the weather conditions to pose too much of a problem for the Impact, especially since many of the players have already played in similar conditions in their careers.
“It’s not a problem for us. Maybe we’ll play with an orange ball, maybe that’s the only equipment change that there’s going to be. We’ll prepare the same way. I’m sure we’ve all played in bad conditions at some point, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue,” Arnaud said.
Assistant coach Mauro Biello, who will act as the Impact’s substitute coach with Marco Schallibaum serving a one-game suspension, explained that the Impact may, however, be forced to change their style of play as an overly wet surface could make passes on the ground difficult to pull off.
“If we can’t play the ball on the ground, we will have to find other options. We told the players to be ready to adjust themselves to all the conditions that they may face,” Biello said in French.
“For us we will try to play our game, and if the conditions are difficult we’ll have to adapt quickly."
Against the Crew, the Impact will be able to count on the veteran presence of Alessandro Nesta, who recovered from a slight adductor injury suffered against Toronto FC in March.
“I think I’m going to be ready. [I’ve had] two weeks rest, and now I feel very good,” Nesta said.
It certainly won’t be the first time Nesta plays in winter-like conditions, as the 38-year-old Italian defender recalled playing in many a snowy game in countries such as Germany, Russia and Belarus throughout his career.
Though Nesta’s recovery is welcome news for the Impact, Biello and his staff will be keeping a watchful eye on his progress through the game, to see how he copes with a difficult playing surface.
“Certainly with his experience, the players will feel more confident with him at the back. But we will have to keep a close eye on him because when there are conditions like these, it’s difficult for a player who's just coming back from an injury,” Biello said.
A win against the Crew on Sunday will ensure the Impact remain unaccompanied atop the eastern conference standings. The forecast for the game calls for partly sunny skies and a high of eight degrees Celcius.