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Impact look to big home opener crowd to forget painful MLS debut in Vancouver

03/13/2012 05:32 EDT | Updated 05/13/2012 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - Matteo Ferrari would rather ponder the record crowd expected for the Montreal Impact's home opener than the expansion club's forgettable debut match in Vancouver.

Coming off a 2-0 loss on the West Coast that included a costly gaffe by the veteran defender, the Impact now look forward to playing the Chicago Fire on Saturday in their first home opener as a member of Major League Soccer.

''We know it will be a really good atmosphere, lots of fans,'' Ferrari said Tuesday. ''We're happy for that because we need the fans with us like, as we say in Italian, a 12th man on the ground.''

The club announced this week that 46,500 tickets have been sold thus far and that 2,000 seats have been added to the layout at Olympic Stadium to raise capacity to more than 58,500. The club hopes to top the local record of 58,542 who turned out for a North American Soccer League playoff game of the defunct Montreal Manic against the Chicago Sting in 1981.

Laying down the artificial turf at the Big O began Monday and is to be completed in time for an open house practice that is expected to draw thousands on Thursday evening.

It promises to be a positive week for the new team and should help drive home coach Jesse Marsch's message to his charges to put the Vancouver game behind them and look to the future.

It was a first MLS game for several players, including Ferrari, a former Inter Milan defender who spent the last two seasons with one of Turkey's top clubs, Besiktas.

''I liked the ambience in Vancouver,'' he said. ''But when you lose you're not happy.

''We know we can do better. After the first goal, we continued to play, to try to find our game and I think we did a good job. We made a couple of mistakes and allowed two goals. But it was the first game.''

The Impact looked to be doing well to open the game, but the Whitecaps showed their ability to strike suddenly when Eric Hassli headed a pass in to Sebastien Le Toux to open the scoring only four minutes in.

Ferrari was the goat in the second half when he allowed Camilo to jam on the brakes and cut inside to get a second goal that sank any Montreal hopes of earning a first MLS point.

''We lost a ball in our attack and they made a counterattack,'' said Ferrari. ''For sure, I can do better in this situation because I permitted Camilo to come inside when maybe it was better to stay there and don't permit him to kick with the left foot.

''But I lost my control and slipped. Unfortunately, we gave up a second goal and it was difficult for us mentally. But still, we had two chances after the second goal. That's a good sign.''

Unfortunately for the Impact, pre-season concerns of a lack of finish up front were evident as they created some chances, but couldn't get a first MLS goal.

Forward Sanna Nyassi used his speed to open some space, but didn't prove a dangerous shooter. The other starting forward, Justin Braun, was hardly noticed.

Their best chance came from captain Davy Arnaud, but his header was deftly headed away by South Korean international fullback Lee Young-Pyo.

''You start to worry when your team isn't creating chances and you're not getting into position to score, but we had a decent number of chances,'' said Arnaud. ''It's not something we worry too much about because we have guys on the team who are capable of scoring goals.''

One answer could already be in camp — Ferrari's former Italian national squad teammate Bernardo Corradi. The 35-year-old has been working himself into shape while the team decides whether to sign him.

Marsch said the Impact were ''getting close to making a decision'' on Corradi, who in training is the team's most impressive-looking striker.

However, even if he was signed right away, it would take time for the former Udinese forward's international transfer papers to come through. Playing this week is not in the cards.

''He's a little different from what we have,'' said Marsch. ''He's more of a target forward who can hold balls up and then bring the team into the game.

''And he's clever around the goal. He's still getting himself fit and sharp.''

Marsch said he will consider changes to his starting 11, but since he is seeking consistency, there shouldn't be many. Some fans and media have pushed for forward Eduardo Sebrango to start, but the 38-year-old has not been fully fit. He was not among the 18 players who made the trip to Vancouver.

On Tuesday, he was one of a handful to leave the pitch early after being banged up in training, none of which looked serious. It got to the point that Marsch and two of his assistants donned singlets to fill out the numbers for scrimmage.

Marsch said the team that is in only its eighth week together since the start of training camp was not as bad as the 2-0 score in Vancouver would indicate, on defence or on attack.

''There isn't any sense of panic,'' he said. ''We just need to be sharper.

''That was a game where in general I felt we weren't sharp. Part of it is nerves, giving up an early goal. It was the first time we've been on the field together in a meaningful match. There were good things, but there are also things to work on.''

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