Preview: Black & Gold hope to rebound against first-place Impact
With a full week of training now under his belt, Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss faces a challenge on the road Saturday afternoon as the Crew takes on the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Impact (2:00 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio). Though the new boss already has already managed two matches for the Black & Gold, the past week has given his side more time to adapt to his mindset and tactics.
"I think we responded really well last Wednesday [in a 2-0 win against the Houston Dynamo]," veteran defender Tyson Wahl said. "Not only in the result, but we actually played the way [Bliss] wants us to play and in a positive manner. We're focusing a lot on transition and transitioning to offense and defense more quickly and playing with more energy at a faster pace.
"Training was tough this week, but those are the things we focused on. We're adapting to his new style and the new practices."
Added winger Ethan Finlay: "Bliss is very demanding. He likes to have up-tempo sessions. I think getting used to the up-tempo pace will translate to the game because he wants to play a more attacking style and high press at times. We really want to put teams under pressure whether we're home or away."
Despite the Crew falling 3-0 in its last match on Saturday in Kansas City, Bliss has kept a positive energy in the locker room as the Crew remains in mathematical contention for the postseason.
"The way we played [against Sporting Kansas City] and the manner in which we played was probably not the way they want to play or the way we want them to play, but I think there was a combination of some critical words, but also some praise in some other areas," Bliss explained.
"I like to sandwich [the positivity] in there because I think the message has got to be positive. We've got to feel good about ourselves. Even in times we lose, we've got to find some positives."
Though the Crew holds a 3-1-1 record against the Impact since it joined MLS in 2012, a road result will be no easy task for the Black & Gold. Marco Schällibaum's side sits atop the East and has lost just once at Stade Saputo in 2013. Surrounded by weapons in the attack, Marco Di Vaio is focal point with an MLS-leading 17 goals this season.
Without question, limiting Di Vaio's impact will be a priority for the Crew on Saturday.
"The guy's leading the League in goals so anytime you can shut him down, it's a positive," Bliss said of the Italian. "But they've also got some other guys like Felipe [Martins] and if [Davy] Arnaud plays, Bernier more so from the spot, [Andrés] Romero -- they've got other weapons other than Di Vaio, but you've got to deal with him first and then the others also."
Added Wahl: "They're playing very efficiently right now and their goalscorers are scoring goals. We have to keep everyone in-check. It's going to be a tough game."