This week I chatted with GioSardo of Mount Royal Soccer, SB Nation's Montreal Impact site. Sardo and I discussed various things about the teams in a preview of the Philadelphia Union-Impact game.
Question 1: The Impact added Serie A legend Alessandro Nesta after his contract ran out at AC Milan. How was his debut for Montreal?
MRS: Nesta's debut was a phenomenal success. His first game, combined with the return to health of our other centre back Nelson Rivas, really helped settle down the defensive line and eliminate all mistakes. Nesta immediately became our field general. Not only did he make Thierry Henry disappear for most of the game but he cured our awful set piece defense.Our keeper, Donovan Ricketts, has struggled mightily as setting up our set piece defence since the beginning of the season and it has helped the opponent fill up the net against us. Nesta immediately took over, made sure everyone was properly covered and even ensured that Ricketts was in the right position. In my opinion, he has stepped in and has immediately become the best centre back in the MLS. No one can match his talent, poise and intelligence on the field. Therefore, for all you Union fans, don't expect the same defensive screw ups that got you guys those 3 points a few weeks back.
Question 2: Marco Di Viao will miss Saturday's game because of his involvement with the alleged scandal in Italy. How will that affect the Impact versus the Union and Montreal, potentially, for the rest of the season?
MRS: Marco Di Vaio FINALLY scored... and now he gets to miss a game to handle some legal issues back in the homeland. For the game against the Union, he will definitely be missed but the good news is that Andrew Wenger is back to 100% and should get the start. Andrew looked very good in our exhibition match against Olympique Lyonnais and fans have been dying to see what he can do in a full 90 minutes. We're hoping he uses the fact that he is playing against his hometown team as motivation. As for the rest of the season with Di Vaio, we are hoping that the impact of his absence is minimal. He just scored his first goal. He was starting to build a nice chemistry with the rest of the team, especially Felipe. We are hoping that once he gets back, he can pick up right where he left off and bag a few goals to squeak us into the playoffs. If it takes time to click again with the rest of the guys, we are in BIG trouble.
Question 3: How has Andrew Wenger played when given the chance to get into games this season? As a local product for Philadelphia, he has a following of sorts down here and his brother is part of the Union's academy system.
MRS: Andrew Wenger has had a rollercoaster rookie campaign. He missed a big part of the season at the beginning because of school and he's missed another chunk due to injury. In the little time that he has played, he has shown some great flashes of what he can do on the field and has managed to score 3 goals. Finally 100% again, he played extremely well against Olympique Lyonnais (he scored a beauty of a goal) and is now slated to play a full 90 minutes on Saturday. If he can stay healthy the rest of the way, he should see more and more playing time and may even feature with Di Vaio in a 2 striker system. One thing is for sure, he has a very bright future ahead of him.
BONUS: Were the rumors about the Impact trying to highjack Clarence Seedorf's transfer to Botofoga ever proven to be true?
MRS: I can confirm that there was at least one offer made. The timing of the negotiations, however, is unclear. It is too bad that we were unable to get him. He would have been one heck of an addition. Botofoga is very lucky to have him. I'm sure that our owner, Joey Saputo, is still working non stop to add another DP or two. The amount of contacts that the Impact have in Italy is unbelievable.
Underrated player to watch and why:
MRS: Jeb Brovsky, defence: Jeb has been the Impact's unsung hero all season long. Having converted from a midfielder to a fullback during the offseason, he has done everything Jesse Marsch has asked of him. He has played both left and right back, he doesn't make big mistakes and has become a fan favorite here in Montreal. You won't hear his name much during the game. He's not flashy. Jeb is blue collar (He really is! I mean, the dude only makes 33k a year! That's value!). He gets the job done, period.
Predicted formation and final score:
Jeb Brovsky - Alessandro Nesta - Nelson Rivas - Matteo Ferrari
Patrice Bernier - Collen WarnerDavy Arnaud - Felipe - Justin Mapp
Final score: 3-1 win for the Montreal Impact.