Thierry Henry salutes the Montreal Impact at the end of the long season and sees a lot of positive points in 2021 | Charles Boehm

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From a new coach (and world famous) and early departure due to Concacaf Champions League last winter to pandemic shutdown, midsummer bubble tournament, extended residency in the regular season in New Jersey and qualifying for the last minute playoffs, 2020 has been even more of an odyssey for the Montreal Impact than most teams.
The curtain fell on that trip Tuesday night as they left CCL at the hands of CD Olimpia, ending Hondurans’ long undefeated streak in all competitions – which dates back to before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – with a 1-0 result that was not enough to defeat Olimpia’s 2-1 first leg win in Montreal nine months ago.

“We went out, so the emotion is, obviously we are sad to be absent,” said head coach Thierry Henry after the game. “But we beat a team that didn’t lose a game for a very long time, and rightly so, by the way. But we couldn’t score the second goal.

The Impact saw a first chance to erase Olimpia’s goal line and could have snatched a superb chronological series winner from injuries if Rudy Camacho had made better contact during a late delivery gloved by goalkeeper Edrick Menjivar. But their disappointment coexists with some satisfaction as they reflect on a brighter future in the second year under Henry.

“If Rudy had scored, it would have been the icing on the cake, but it obviously did not happen,” said the French boss. “But I’m proud of my team. Again, what can I say? We didn’t train for two weeks, we were in quarantine, guys were missing, we only trained six times – seven times but the day before the game you don’t count that – and we played. They had cramps at the end of the game, we don’t. So I can’t say anything to the team. They tried, they fought, they came back, they crossed the ball, they directed the ball, they entered.

“Obviously we’re disappointed not to be in the next round, but when you look at the opportunities we created in both games, we should have passed. At the end of the day, if you don’t put the ball in the net in football, you don’t win games.

Highlights: Montreal Impact 1, Olimpia 0

With Olimpia content to sit down and play against the ball, Amar Sejdic led the show for Montreal, effectively orchestrating possession and stroking a clinical finish inside the right post early in the second half to put his distance striking team.

An unannounced 2019 SuperDraft pickup from the University of Maryland, the second-year midfielder has made spectacular progress under Henry and garnered praise from his illustrious coach.

“You train hard, you train well, you will play. Period. It’s like that. And he’s shown it all year round, ”said Henry de Sejdic. “And then he has a brain for the game. It’s always a plus. When you can think faster and see faster, you don’t have to run fast. And so that’s what he does.

“Obviously it’s very important to us up to the minute. Lucky for us, he can do it next season. It’s always harder when people expect you, so he’s fine, so hopefully he’ll do that for us again. But we are very happy with it.

Sejdic also sees green shoots of growth.

“We fought hard and I think you can take a little bit of an optimistic perspective to see what this group has to offer. And there’s a good foundation on which we can build on this group and sort of apply it for 2021, ”he said.

“It’s going to be important that the foundation of the guys who were here for the 2020 season brings and makes sure that the guys who come for the 2021 season buy into the philosophy and understand what needs to be done for us to achieve what we want to achieve.

While Montreal and their two Canadian MLS counterparts still face a myriad of uncertainties heading into 2021, as border crossings between the United States and Canada remain complicated due to the pandemic, we are ‘Usually expects the Impact to make significant changes to its roster for next season.

Henry will likely work his large network of contacts for foreign reinforcements and a sustained national movement could still take hold, with Tuesday’s debut for 16-year-old freshly signed academy product Jean-Aniel Assi, a possible omen of things to come.

Overall, the demanding Henry seems to like the spirit of his group.

“When I got there, I said this team was going to be a team that was going to fight. It hasn’t always happened all season, and when it hasn’t happened, I said after a few games: this team is going to try to play, and you saw that we are trying to play against anyone. who, ”he said. “Sometimes we got caught, as you know, but this team is courageous, wants to play, fights. So we must continue to do this, and much better, of course.

“There are a lot of positives to be learned from this season for next season.”

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