Sun, 05 Apr 2020

Henry era to begin as Impact host Revolution in opener

Field Level Media
29 Feb 2020, 04:05 GMT+10

The Thierry Henry era begins Saturday afternoon when the Montreal Impact host the New England Revolution in the MLS season opener for both clubs.

Henry will make his league debut as the Impact's coach, hoping to end Montreal's three-season playoff drought.

Henry is no stranger to MLS thanks to his days playing with the New York Red Bulls (2010-14), though he will assume a head coaching role for just the second time. He had an abbreviated 20-game stint with Monaco in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 season.

The Impact have already recorded a significant result in 2020, defeating Costa Rican side Saprissa to reach the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. The Impact played Saprissa to a scoreless draw on Wednesday in Montreal to clinch a 2-2 aggregate victory due to the away-goal tiebreaker.

The two games against Saprissa took a heavy toll on Montreal's back line.

Rudy Camacho will miss at least a month of action after sustaining a knee injury in the first game vs. Saprissa, while Jukka Raitala was substituted out of Wednesday's contest at halftime and is expected to miss eight to 12 weeks with a fractured fibula.

"Once again we lost a centerback on a hit ... but the guys adjusted and fought through it," Henry said on Wednesday.

In a perfect world for the Impact, Henry will spark the type of turnaround that Bruce Arena brought to the Revolution last season.

New England went 8-3-8 once Arena officially took to the sidelines as head coach, and reached the playoffs for the first time since the 2015 season.

After a first-round loss to Atlanta United ended that run, expectations are high that the Revolution can return to the postseason in 2020.

For now, however, Arena simply wants "to get off to a much better start this year than we did last year," when the Revolution were 2-8-2 over their first 12 games.

"Hopefully we're a balanced team," Arena said. "That's been our objective ... to make our team more balanced, a team that can score goals and a team that can defend as well."

Designated Player Adam Buksa is expected to make his debut in New England's starting 11.

Carles Gil (foot) is expected to miss Saturday's game.

--Field Level Media

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