New England coach Bruce Arena says it's important that the Revolution hit the ground running when they face the Montreal Impact in their Group C opening game in the MLS is Back Tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando on Thursday night.
Each team will play three group-stage matches that count toward the regular-season standings in the MLS. The top two finishers in each group along with four third-place finishers advance to the Round of 16 knockout stage and will vie for the championship and a berth in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.
The Revs (0-1-1, 1 point) are also grouped with fellow Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United and Toronto FC in Group C.
"If you don't get points in your first game you're really scrambling to get points in, obviously, the second game," Arena said. "If you don't do that in the second game you're usually out of the competition."
New England and Montreal already met before the league shut down after two games due to COVID-19 outbreak in early March. The Impact (1-0-1, 4 points), behind a goal by forward Maxi Urruti in the 80th minute, rallied for a 2-1 victory in the Feb. 29 contest at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
But the Revolution played their first two games before the break without midfielder Carles Gil, the 2019 MLS Newcomer of the Year, who was sidelined with a foot injury. Gil, who won the team's Golden Boot with 10 goals and 14 assists, is healthy again.
"He's a very good player," Arena said. "He has a very good understanding of the game and his teammates."
Urruti was off to a hot start for Montreal with three goals and an assist in the first two games. The Impact also added midfielder Victor Wanyama on a free transfer from Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League during the break. The Kenyan international had seven goals in 97 appearances with the Spurs following a move from Southampton in June of 2016.
"We tried to prepare the players ... the best we could physically and mentally," Montreal coach Thierry Henry told the Montreal Gazette. "People forget about mental health. It's very important these guys are mentally OK to play a game -- and feel safe to come and play. We all know it's not ideal in terms of preparation. You have to adapt to what comes your way."
--Field Level Media