MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact are glad to have midfield star Ignacio Piatti back, especially with their other designated player Saphir Taider serving a suspension.
Piatti sat out a 4-0 loss in New England last weekend with a sore thigh but was back in training this week. He is expected to be in the lineup when Montreal (2-3-0) visits the New York Red Bulls (2-0-2) on Saturday.
"For the match against Seattle (two weeks ago) I felt something in my quadriceps and I couldn’t play against New England," Piatti said Thursday. "Now it’s good and I’m glad to be back.
"It’s a big match. We need to improve the things we didn’t do well in New England."
Everything went downhill for the Impact when Taider was shown a red card only 15 minutes into the New England match for putting a cleat into an opponent’s shin as he tried to recover a ball. The red card brought an automatic one-game suspension.
Piatti, a 17-goal scorer the last two seasons, leads the Impact with a goal and three assists in four games.
Coach Remi Garde said having him back was good news for the team.
"The change is that we’re going to play with a key player who can be decisive in a game," said Garde. "But we also have to know that it’s not only because Nacho (Piatti) is back that all the situation will be solved.
"It’s a boost for the team, but Nacho is not the player that can change all the game on his own. We also rely on the team spirit, that we can take benefit from Nacho’s return."
Garde hadn’t yet decided who will replace Taider in central midfield, but said it will likely need a collective effort to make up for the Algerian international’s skill at both ends of the pitch.
"It’s a big challenge because, like Nacho, Saphir has proven since the beginning of the season that he has been straight away very important to the team," said Garde. "He’s a hard worker in the midfield.
"He can be tough on attack as well. But sometimes when you think it’s a problem it can be an opportunity for the team, for the players, to prove that we can do without him. The question is not if we can do without him for a long period. It’s can we do it for 90 minutes?"
Striker Matteo Mancosu has also returned to training after an injury but may not be ready to start.
"He’s training normally for two or three days now," said Garde. "He’s quite close, but then he has been stopped for a long while and now he needs to work physically to be back, but he’s ready to help the team."
Full-back Michael Petrasso is also sidelined.
The Impact will play on the road for a fifth time in six games to start the season. They have never won in Red Bull Arena in the regular season, although they beat New York in a playoff matchup in 2016.