Impact looking to be better in defensive transition against Chicago

The Impact are planning on keeping space at a premium Saturday against a pacey Chicago attack.
MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact will be looking for their first win of the MLS season on Saturday when they welcome the Chicago Fire indoors at the Olympic Stadium.

Speaking to assembled media Friday following the Impact’s last training session before the game, coach Frank Klopas highlighted the importance of his team being able to defend much better than that they have done so far this season.

“We need to make sure that as a team we defend well and try to keep a clean sheet,” Klopas said. “When you do that you always give yourself a chance to win.”

Conceding nine goals in five games, the Impact haven’t been able to blank out their opponents so far this term, which is largely due to their struggles at defending against teams that are able to quickly transition from defense to attack. Having coached the Fire for the last three seasons prior to joining the Impact in December, Klopas knows Saturday’s opponents very well and noted that one of their greatest strengths is precisely their ability to counterattack teams.

“They’re really good in transition. Quincy [Amarikwa] right now is playing really well for them. They have a player like Mike Magee that’s always a threat and they have pace with Patrick Nyarko and Dilly [Duka] when they’re on the field,” Klopas said. “It’s a team that’s organized and good on the break, so it won’t be an easy game.”

Midfielder Collen Warner explained that for the Impact to effectively defend against the counter they need to be more vigilant when they themselves are attacking, which means being positioned in a way that would enable them to close the ball down quickly after losing possession.

“I think being more cautious would be the right way to put it as far as organizing our players when we actually have the ball to prevent some of the counter attacks that we’ve been facing,” Warner said. “Against most of these teams, they come here, sit in, and look to exploit the space, so it’s something we’ve definitely been working on.”

That the Olympic Stadium playing surface is 5 meters wider than the Impact’s regular field at Stade Saputo makes keeping things tight defensively all the more imperative.

“We can’t be too spread out,” Klopas said. “In transition they’re a very good team, and we have to be organized and disciplined at the back in the way that we push players forward.”

NOTES – After training with the Impact all week, new forward signing Jack Mcinerney is expected to make his debut against Chicago, though Klopas wouldn’t say whether he would play from the start. … Midfielder Hernan Bernardello is day-to-day with an ankle injury sustained last weekend and is a doubt for the game. … Defenders Nelson Rivas and Adrian Lopez have resumed training with the Impact but won’t be available.

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