New Montreal Impact coach Wilmer Cabrera set for debut against Toronto

Montreal Impact's newly appointed head coach Wilmer Cabrera conducts his his practice in Montreal, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney doesn’t anticipate the Montreal Impact making a ton of changes on Saturday in the aftermath of an abrupt coaching shuffle.

Wilmer Cabrera makes his debut as Impact coach in the latest edition of the 401 Derby at BMO Field, mere days after replacing the fired Rémi Garde.

“This is something that happened on Wednesday and they have a game on Saturday. You can’t change the world in two days,” Vanney said. “My perception of things is they won’t change a lot, especially in the short term.”

READ MORE: Montreal Impact fire coach Rémi Garde as they struggle to hold on to last playoff spot

A blown 3-0 lead in a 3-3 tie to FC Dallas last weekend was the last straw for Garde.

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Despite leaving points on the table, Montreal retained the seventh and final playoff spot in the MLS Eastern Conference, ahead by virtue of tiebreaker on Orlando and Toronto. All three teams have 34 points.

“The idea for me, at this point, is not adapting the players to my philosophy,” said Cabrera.

“It’s trying to help them with the rhythm that they have to be successful while making some adjustments.”

Toronto FC defender Omar Gonzalez knows what to expect from a group of players going through a coaching adjustment.

Before arriving via transfer to Toronto FC in June, his Mexican club, Atlas FC, fired its coach following a five-game losing streak.

“I know that guys who were on the outside looking in now see they have a chance to show this new coach that they can be a starter,” Gonzalez said. “I know they are going to be gunning for us, new coach and all, so we have to be smart and just worry about ourselves.”

READ MORE: Piatti leads the way as Montreal Impact beat Cavalry FC 2-1 in opening leg of Canadian Championship semifinal

Garde’s dismissal highlights a volatile season for coaches in MLS. He became the sixth coach to be replaced in 2019.

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Cabrera was one of those casualties when he was replaced as coach two weeks ago by the Dynamo following a two-and-a-half year stint.

Although Toronto has a game in hand on Montreal and Orlando City SC, it has just three games left at BMO Field.

READ MORE: Montreal Impact blow three goal lead, settle for draw with FC Dallas

Toronto has only three wins on the road this season.

“I think anxiety is a good thing in soccer because it raises your level of focus,” TFC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg said.

“If you can shift that frustration into concentration and determination, then anxiety is good, in my mind.”

Last week, Toronto picked up a point following a 2-2 draw on the road in Columbus against the Crew.

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