With just three games left in the regular season, Montreal Impact coach Thierry Henry says every match is a must-win for his team.
The Impact (7-11-2) currently hold a post-season berth, but are jockeying with about seven other squads to cement their spot in the playoffs.
"We are where we are because we deserve to be where we are. The team behind is behind because they deserve to be, the team in front also," Henry said on a video call Monday.
“You have eight teams on the same boat as us now. And we’re going to try to stay on it.”
Expansion club Nashville SC (6-6-7) is also vying for a playoff position and will battle the Impact on Tuesday for three crucial points in Harrison, N.J.
Nashville sits one spot above Montreal in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference standings, ahead by two points in the race for eighth. The top 10 teams in the East make the playoffs.
Tuesday will mark the first meeting between the two sides.
Henry says Nashville is physical, quick and aggressive.
“It’s going to be very difficult against Nashville because they impose that battle with you," the coach said.
“I have a lot of respect because it’s a new franchise and they had to deal with a lot of stuff. … And they’re more than surviving.”
It's been an unusual season for the Impact. The group has spent much of the season away from Montreal, and is currently stationed in New Jersey due to border restrictions. They've also weathered injuries, absences to key players, and limited training time.
Through it all, defender Luis Binks said the club has grown and "improved dramatically," and now knows how Henry and his staff want the team to play.
“Now it’s about getting results," Binks said. "We all know what’s required of us but we’re not taking our chances at one end and then, me especially, we’re not getting enough clean sheets and we’re giving our goalie too much to do.”
The Impact lost 3-1 to New York City FC on Saturday. Montreal gave up three goals in 18 minutes, thanks in part to some poor defending.
“It is frustrating, but we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing in training and hopefully as time goes on, we’ll develop more togetherness as a back four and these mistakes won’t keep happening," Binks said. "Because they can’t keep happening.”
Learning from missteps is one thing that the 19-year-old Englishman said he's taken from his first season in professional soccer.
"I'm going to make mistakes because it’s new to me, but once I make the mistakes, I can’t keep repeating them," he said. "Once is enough."
NASHVILLE SC (6-6-7) AT MONTREAL IMPACT (7-11-2)
Tuesday, Red Bull Arena
HOT STREAK: Nashville has lost just once in its last eight outings and is unbeaten in three games. Montreal has struggled recently, dropping three of its last four decisions.
GOAL DIFFERENTIAL: Nashville has conceded 18 goals this season, third least in the Eastern Conference. Montreal has given up 39 — more than any other team in the East.
FAMILIAR FACE: The Impact know one Nashville defender well. Daniel Lovitz played 84 MLS matches for Montreal between 2017 and 2019. The 29-year-old American was traded to Nashville in November 2019 and has registered two assists in 17 games for his new club this season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2020.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press