Impact ready for return to action against New England

By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Montreal Impact kick off their first game in the Major League Soccer (MLS) is Back Tournament against the New England Revolution on July 9 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
The team has spent the last several weeks training in Florida in order to acclimatize to their new environment and get back into game shape after three months in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impact midfielder Saphir Taïder said in a Zoom videoconference that the team is in high spirits. They have embraced a complete system overhaul with head coach Thierry Henry at the helm. He adds that this will be a unique and challenging experience.
“The training is going well, it’s very hot and humid, but it went well and we adapted,” said Taïder. “We haven’t had any positive cases in the camp, which is good news for us.”
On Saturday, Florida announced a single day record of positive coronavirus cases with 11,458, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On Sunday, it surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 cases.
The MLS also removed F.C. Dallas from competition because they reported 10 positive cases of the virus. One of the opening day games, Nashville versus Chicago, was postponed because five Nashville players tested positive after arriving in Florida.
Several players have expressed doubts about the tournament and the escalating situation in Florida. Most notably, reigning league most valuable player, Carlos Vela, bowed out of the event saying: “It is in the best interest of the health of my family to stay home.”
But Taïder seemed confident that players aren’t in jeopardy at the ESPN complex. He went on to acknowledge that the game against New England is going to be unlike their matchup in February.
“Well it’s true that tomorrow is going to be different, they’re missing players, so are we and their system will probably be different,” Taïder said. “We’re entering this match with determination, but we don’t think it’ll be easy, even after beating them once before.”

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