The Montreal Impact will end their brief Western road swing on Wednesday in San Jose without striker Didier Drogba and some other key players.
With a stretch of four games in 10 days set to begin against the Earthquakes, head coach Mauro Biello opted to send Drogba, Ignacio Piatti, Justin Mapp, Marco Donadel, Laurent Ciman and goalkeeper Evan Bush home for extra rest. A team spokesman confirmed Tuesday that those players would not be available.
Drogba (toe), Piatti (calf) and Mapp (foot) are recovering from injuries, which was a factor in Biello’s decision. Ciman, meanwhile, is serving the second game of a two-match suspension.
“We need to manage the roster for our upcoming games, rotating a few players this week to balance the lineup and give us the best chance to earn points,” Biello said. “With the number of games, the travel and time change, the conditions are difficult and we wanted to give some players some time to rest.”
The six players, who have accounted for 14 of the club’s 34 goals this year, left California for Montreal on Monday. The Impact played to a 0-0 draw in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Montreal (9-11-5) is in a good position to make the Major League Soccer playoffs for the second time in its history. The Impact are sixth in the Eastern Conference with nine games remaining in the regular season and have games in hand on their closest rivals.
“We have to (come up with) our best performance every time out,” said defender Donny Toia. “We have to continue to be focused a full 90 minutes, starting with San Jose.”
Following Wednesday’s clash with San Jose (11-11-6), Montreal plays home matches against New England, Chicago and D.C. United.
The Impact players are riding high after back-to-back positive results. Drogba scored a hat trick in a 4-3 home win over the Fire before Montreal held the Galaxy – the league’s highest scoring team – off the scoresheet.
Montreal is 1-0-1 since Biello took over as head coach after Frank Klopas was fired two weeks ago.
The Impact will likely start Dominic Oduro up front at Avaya Stadium and Johan Venegas should fill Piatti’s central attacking midfielder role. In the back, Hassoun Camara could make his return from a knee injury.
He hasn’t suited up for the Impact since April 22 but did play 45 minutes for FC Montreal last Wednesday in a USL matchup.
“We have been playing well as a team lately,” said Camara. “We have to make sure that we keep to the coach’s game plan. We played a really good game last weekend against L.A. We have to keep this spirit we have created recently and if we do, we will be able to earn a result on Wednesday night.”
Eric Kronberg, a native of Santa Rosa, Calif., is expected to get the start in goal.
San Jose is in its own playoff race in the Western Conference. The Earthquakes are currently seventh in the West, two points out of the sixth and final playoff spot.
After a 0-5-1 skid, San Jose has won four of its last six.
“Wednesday is a very important game,” Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear said on the team’s website. “We are in the mix for the playoffs. A win on Wednesday puts us in a good spot.”
Notes: Montreal is 2-0-1 all-time versus the Earthquakes in MLS. ? San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski has a league-best 99 goals since 2010. He has 13 goals this season. ? Piatti leads the Impact with eight goals… Montreal and San Jose split their two meetings in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2013.