As losses mount, Impact manager Thierry Henry starts second-guessing himself

"I take the blame," he said after last night's loss to New York City FC. "Everything that's been happening, I take the blame for everything."

New York City forward Jesus Medina (19) scores a goal against the Montreal Impact during the second half of the match between the New York City and the Montreal Impact at Yankee Stadium on Oct 24, 2020. Dennis Schneidler / USA TODAY Sports

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As he continues to witness the same problems at both ends of the pitch, it would appear Impact manager Thierry Henry has once again lost confidence in certain players.

And now, to compound matters, he seems to be second-guessing his decisions.

On Friday, Henry unequivocally stated how prudent it was for his club to return to Montreal from its Harrison, N.J., base for four days, with a week between matches, even if it meant the players couldn’t practice and had to quarantine.

But Saturday evening, after the Impact lost 3-1 to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium — its third defeat in four games — Henry repeatedly stated he took the blame for many things, including the decision to return to Canada. He said the club should have remained in New Jersey, training.

Would that have made a difference? We’ll never know. But NYCFC appeared ripe to be taken, having gone three games without a victory.

Hours before the opening kickoff, NYCFC announced an undisclosed player had tested positive for COVID-19. The organization stated the player was asymptomatic and in self-isolation.

Also, the New Yorkers were playing without a pure centre-forward due to the suspension of Valentin Castellanos.

“I take the blame. Everything that’s been happening, I take the blame for everything,” Henry said during a post-game video conference call. “It’s as simple as that. I’m proud of them.”

Following a goalless opening 45 minutes, during which Impact goalkeeper James Pantemis made several acrobatic stops, the visitors were playing a strong second half and had NYCFC on its heels.

Montreal Impact goalkeeper James Pantemis (41) makes a save against the New York City during the first half of the match between the New York City and the Montreal Impact at Yankee Stadium on Oct 24, 2020. Dennis Schneidler / USA TODAY Sports

Romell Quioto had a glorious opportunity in the 61st minute, but Sean Johnson got a piece of the short-side shot, deflecting it off the iron. Three minutes later, Samuel Piette set up Quioto off a two-on-one break. Rather than pass the ball back to the Repentigny native, Quioto’s attempt sailed over the net.

Then in the 68th, defender Rudy Camacho yet again made a poor defensive decision — something that’s becoming his trademark. Camacho tried to clear a cross from inside the box with his backheel, a feeble attempt. Instead, it was intercepted by Jesus Medina, who opened the scoring.

“We made again a clear mistake that changed the rhythm of the game,” Henry stated. “It changed everything and it gave them confidence.

“We made again a mistake obviously that we could have avoided. We could have been ahead in the game. When you do this type of thing you punish yourself.”

Montreal Impact defender Rudy Camacho (4) and New York City midfielder Maximiliano Moralez (10) battle for a header during the first half of the match between the New York City and the Montreal Impact at Yankee Stadium on Oct 24, 2020. Dennis Schneidler / USA TODAY Sports

This has been a recurring theme this season with centre-back Camacho, the French native, who has found himself in and out of Henry’s doghouse and might be required again to serve penance. There were also reports on social media in recent days that the Impact was trying to trade the 29-year-old veteran, in his third season with the squad. If true, finding a suitor for a player who has become a defensive liability will take some cajoling.

“We’ve kind of fallen back into our same habits of giving up cheap goals on our mistakes,” said defender Joel Waterman, a native of Langley, B.C. “New York came out and had more desire than us. They were pressing and making it difficult on us. We didn’t give it back to them. They wanted it more.

“We have to stop these re-occurring mistakes of counter-attack goals when we have possession. It feels like it takes a lot for us to break down teams and score goals. Sometimes it feels like we give them away cheaply. We have to do a better job.”

Despite its inconsistent play, the Impact remains in a playoff spot — only because 10 of 14 Eastern Conference teams will qualify this season. Montreal (7-11-2) sits ninth, two points ahead of both Nashville and Chicago, although the Fire holds a game in hand.

The Impact has allowed a conference-worst 39 goals and gone 12 consecutive matches without recording a clean sheet. Had it not been for Quioto’s goal in the 89th, the Impact would have been blanked.

At least Camacho has company in the principal’s office.

Ballou Tabla failed to answer Henry’s call. Inserted for Bojan in the 73rd, he found himself back on the bench 14 minutes later. And Henry made it clear no injury had occurred.

“The substitutions I make are up to me,” Henry said. “Everything that happened, it’s on me. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it always will be. It’s my decision on who comes on or off.”

Three games remain for the Impact. Time’s running short.