Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Impact Coach Garde Hopes Fitness Solves Last Season's Late-Game Woes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Impact Coach Garde Hopes Fitness Solves Last Season's Late-Game Woes

Article excerpt

Impact turnaround starts with fitness

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MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact are banking on fitness as one answer to late-game breakdowns that plagued the Major League Soccer club last season.

New coach Remi Garde ran the players hard during the first week of training camp in Florida.

"The first thing was to try to get to know each other as quickly as possible, in and out of training," Garde said Thursday, with his team back at its east end training centre. "But most important was to get ready physically.

"We worked on endurance. As I told the players, seasons are long and if you want to play between 40 and 50 matches over nine months, 90 minutes per game, you need to prepare in consequence."

The Impact were a mistake-prone group last season as they missed the playoffs after having reached the Eastern Conference final in 2016. Many points were lost by conceding late goals. They were also weak on set piece defence.

Garde, hired from Lyon to replace Mauro Biello in November, hopes to fix those shortcomings along with rebuilding an aging team into a younger, fitter, tighter group.

Over-30 veterans like Laurent Ciman, Hassoun Camara, Patrice Bernier and Hernan Bernardello are gone, while eight new players have arrived, including 25-year-old designated player Saphir Taider and 20-year-old Chilean midfelder Jeisson Vargas. Garde said more newcomers will be added.

So far, the returning players like what they've seen from the new coaching staff.

"The proof is in the pudding in terms of the goals and the nature and context in which we were giving them up last year," said left back Daniel Lovitz. "There are no ifs, ands or buts about why that was."

"It comes from a lack of concentration. After your body goes, your mind goes as well. I think this year that's obviously a point of emphasis. I think we made a good first step toward making sure it doesn't occur again this year. …

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