For many, Thursday’s meeting between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC in the Major League Soccer revival tournament was an overnight game for Thierry Henry’s troops. Jukka Raitala and Romell Quioto do not seem to be on the same wavelength, however.
For Quioto, there is no doubt that the Montreal eleven must win in order to qualify for the elimination phase.
"We know it will be a very difficult game," he said in a video conference from Orlando. We will try to be at our best level to fight for this game. You have to challenge Toronto: we have no other choice. It is crucial that we take it with us to show what wood we are heating with. "
"I don't think it's a match without a future," said captain Raitala. We want to win all games, no matter which ones. Of course, (Thursday) is a special match this derby against the TFC. For sure we will do our best and try to win. "
However, the math is simple: a second loss would virtually wipe out the Impact with just one other game against D.C. United in the group stage. A win would give Toronto FC four points, out of the Impact’s reach. The New England Revolution has three points with a victory over the Impact and D.C. United tied with Toronto.
One thing is certain: the two teammates agree on what the Impact will have to do to win Thursday's duel.
"One of the key things is possession, we didn't get it the way we wanted (against the Revolution)," said Quioto. We were chasing the ball, then we shot from behind to score. We also lacked opportunism in the opportunities we had. We have to correct this. "
"The game against New England was not a good performance on our part," said Raitala. We have several aspects to improve, including finding this desire and this work ethic that characterized us at the start of the season. "
Raitala also believes that the team that can keep its concentration more when it is exhausted will have a better chance of winning.
"It is not easy for any team to be here. You can see it in every game: after the hour, the level drops a lot. Everyone must be able to keep their concentration even when you are completely emptied. I think that's what happened to us after the New England goal, we collapsed. They were tired too, but we made too many mistakes.
"You will have to be able to keep more possession of the ball and force the opponent to run. This is how you tire your opponent. "
The Impact captain does not believe having a morning game will bother Toronto FC. But having allowed two late goals, maybe.
"It may be more than having lost their two-goal lead in the final minutes that will weigh heavily. For our part, we focus on our game. We must regain our intensity, which was lacking against the Revolution. "
Toronto FC and the Impact meet at 8 p.m. Thursday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.