Earlier in the week, Gio Sardo from Le Footy Daily penned a guest piece for The Brotherly Game talking about the Montreal Impact. To further preview the Union's adversary this Saturday, I emailed three questions with Sofiana Benzaza of Mount Royal Soccer. My questions and his answers about the Montreal Impact can be seen below. To read his questions and my answers about the Philadelphia Union, make sure you visit Mount Royal Soccer.
1). It is well-known that home field advantage a huge deal in MLS. But even for MLS standards, Montreal has a huge split between home goal differential (+15) and road goal differential (-9). Why do you think that is, and do you believe this is a big deal for the squad?
Yes, Yes and Yes, even though you only asked one question :-)
For the second straight year, the best MLS defence on paper and in pre-season has been faulty. To be fair, I will not put all the blame on the back four as that would annul any kind of soccer/football knowledge I have accumulated over the years. The defensive schema as a whole is not perfect as teams should not find it hard to get close to Troy Perkins' 18-yard box.
Now, as per road games mentality, the demons of 2012 seemed to be cured when the Impact swept the Cascadian US teams to start off the seasons with 2 road wins. Alas, it was only a mirage but not for lack of trying. Few teams can actually impose its style outside its home stadium. But in the Impact's case, playing a counter-attacking style is a big part of its core. Efficiency has not always been there but Di Vaio has not scored a lot on the road.
Indicative of homer goal scorer? maybe but the service gets is of another level between Stade Saputo and elsewhere in the MLS.
2). Who would you consider the Impact's most valuable player?
The most difficult question that I could answer this season but I will stick to my guns and go for Justin Mapp. Although Di Vaio, Bernier and Perkins deserve mentions (and more), Mapp has been consistent this season and really was the offensive catalyst for the team.
As unit, the team generates offensive chances quite well. But Mapp can really created something from nothing and each club needs that playmaker/technician that is so predictable but so unstoppable when on fire.
3) In this season's lone previous match the Impact defeated the Union 5-3 at Saputo Stadium. Have there been any major changes to the squad since then and do you expect another high-scoring affair?
Since then, the Impact went into a 10-game slump during which it only won 2 games in total. And since then, the Impact is on ''fire'' with back to back wins, led by the MLS top goalscorer Marco Di Vaio. But 2 new players have joined the club since: Adrian Lopez and Hernan Bernardello.
Lopez is a Spanish central defender who has not played much due to lack of match fitness. But the 26 year-old is an option for the present and the future. Bernardello is the Impact's second Designated Player and the Argentinean defensive midfielder is potentially a great signing. He brings a technical quality on the pitch that not only elevate Bernier's game but the team as a whole.
Also at the tender age of 26, Bernardello has the age, experience (100+ games in Spain with Almeria) and technical qualities to be a big part of the club's core.
As per scoring affairs, MacMath has been very good against the Impact at PPL park so I dont see a huge score like in Montreal.
Lastly, predict Montreal's starting XI and a final scoreline.
Perkins - Brovsky, Ferrari, Nesta, Camara - Bernier , Bernardello , Felipe , Nyassi, Mapp , - Di Vaio
I predict a 3-1 win by the Montreal Impact to break the curse of PPL Park.