Rémi Garde isn't surprised by the standard of Major League Soccer. In fact, that's why his club decided to take on the Montreal Impact on Tuesday night.
"The level of play was interesting," the Olympique Lyonnais manager told reporters after the French side won 4-2 on penalty kicks after drawing 1-1 with the Impact in regulation. "I wasn’t surprised in the fact that the team [Impact] has a rhythm indicative of a team that’s playing in league play already and with about 20 games under their belt."
Montreal's sharpness, especially at the defensive end, kept the scoreline level through the 90 minutes of play. Yet despite the Impact's superior match fitness, Lyon still managed to generate several scoring chances that were snuffed out by some last-ditch defending and the superb goalkeeping of Montreal backup Evan Bush.
Garde felt that the home side used its physical advantage to level the playing field.
"The athletic difference between the two teams closed the gap that one would expect between the two sides," he said. "I wasn’t surprised.”
While it may seem like Garde was only impressed by the athletic conditioning of his opponents, he explained that the overall standard of soccer in MLS is on an upward curve.
"I think the level of [North] American soccer, just like the U.S. national team, is progressing well," he said. "We saw that tonight.”
Lyon continues its preseason tour on Saturday with the Trophée des Champions versus Montpellier at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
Nick Sabetti contributed additional reporting from Montreal.