The Montreal Impact have had their share of defensive struggles, but Jesse Marsch's unorthodox four man defence held strong against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact have the worst defensive record in the league, but it hasn’t appeared that way of late, especially Saturday night when the Impact defeated the Philadelphia Union 2-0 at Saputo Stadium.
With Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas returning from injury, the Impact now have an impressive amount of depth in central defence, so much so that head coach Jesse Marsch decided to play with a back line comprised of four centre backs: Matteo Ferrari, Nelson Rivas, Alessandro Nesta and Hassoun Camara. As much as this setup didn’t offer the Impact very much going forward, Marsch explained in the postgame press conference that given the team’s defensive hiccups this season, the priority was keeping things tight at the back.
“That went well,” Marsch said. “Having those four guys at the back made it hard to break us down. It’s not always as fluid with the ball in terms of our spacing out of the back, but [considering] where we are in our season and the amount of goals we’ve given up, I’m less concerned with that and more concerned with locking things down. And I believe those four guys can do that.”
Andrew Wenger opened the scoring for the Impact at the end of the first half, and despite the first 45 minutes being evenly poised, the Duke University graduate felt confident about getting a result considering the strength that Montreal now possesses in defense.
“It was a tough game for us,” said Wenger. “They [Union] put a lot of energy into it and the humidity played a little bit of a factor so at times it was a slower game and we had to manage that correctly. But now we have a fantastic back four, that we just have a lot of trust in and know that they could handle it and do the job that was needed. A couple opportunities came and I finally took one.”
Marsch admitted that he didn’t get a chance to see Nelson Rivas’ headbut which had him ejected from the game, but with the Colombian likely having to serve a few games of suspension, it remains to be seen whether or not the Impact will continue with this new defensive arrangement.
But as far as Marsch is concerned, he just hopes that the two consecutive wins can bring momentum to his team's season, especially when the team heads to New England to take on the Revolution next Saturday.
“It was good to get two wins at home but now we got to solve the equation of how to win on the road and get results,” said Marsch. “It’s going to be a big test for us against New England and, again, we got some momentum and we have to continue to have consistency so that we can make a really good push at the end of the year.”