A few days away from the first game of the season, yet another tile fell on the Montreal Impact’s heads.
During practice Tuesday morning, center back Zakaria Diallo reportedly tore his Achilles tendon, ruling him out for an eight to ten-month period. All this without having played a single regular season game with his new club.
At the team’s official launch party in downtown Montreal, Diallo wasn’t even present when the players were formally introduced to Impact season ticket holders.
“Obviously with Diallo, that one hurts,” said Evan Bush. “This week especially because you spend four, five weeks preparing him and Victor [Cabrera] together and now you have to switch things up.”
With an injury to Kyle Fisher—who is out for four months after needing surgery to repair a tibia fracture—to add to the pile, the Impact has become increasingly thin at center back.
According to Bush, the team has is setting sights on playing players out of position for the time being. The three players he cited as potential candidates to fill in for Diallo were fullbacks Jukka Raitala and Chris Duvall as well as central midfielder Marco Donadel who “trained a little bit there during the preseason”.
Samuel Piette admits that the team was nervous when they heard the news, one he called a “big loss” for the team.
“It affects my play a little bit as well with a guy like Zakaria behind me who is very skillful and clam with the ball,” said Piette. “It was easy for him to come out of the defense with the ball so it took some responsibilities off of me in possession play but we have other assets on the team that will fill in and do the job.”
Piette stated that the players were not told that reinforcements would be on the way just yet. However, he said that he isn’t nervous things could start brewing with Diallo ruled out for the entire season.
Almost simultaneously, the team loaned out homegrown center back Thomas Meilleur-Guiguère to USL affiliate Ottawa Fury making the team’s depth even thinner.
“They sent him [to the Ottawa Fury] before what happened with Diallo so I’m not sure if that would have changed anything,” said Bush about possibly cancelling a loan due to depth issue. “Thomas needed games, he’s going to get that in Ottawa and it will be very beneficial to him.”
However, Bush has more faith in experience rather than giving a younger player a baptism by fire. He believes that Raitala, having had experience at centerback, would fit the mold better for the team’s season opener Sunday against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.
“He’s played that position before in his career and he’s got the experience to step in front of 20,000 people on opening day and not have nerves,” said Bush. “Whereas maybe a young guy making his professional debut might be a little bit different.”
Ultimately, Bush agrees with the front office’s decision to have Meilleur-Guiguère playing in the Canadian capital and an out of position for the time being.
“There’s certainly pros and cons to every situation,” he said. “The club weighed it the way they thought was the best possible and I wouldn’t say I disagree at all with that.”