tBG) Obviously the big news is that this will be the debut of Didier Drogba for Montreal. What do you expect from the Chelsea legend (both in terms of this match and overall)?
MRS) Outside the fear of seeing him run for 40 meters and hold his thigh, Drogba should command respect on the pitch. Not only will he bring more talent up front and an obvious knack to score goals, his physical presence as a pivot striker will help diversify the Impact's offensive game.
Off the pitch, the marketing value of Didier Drogba is huge but that will also involve some heavy investment from the club if it wants to yield results beyond the short-term buzz.
In practice, his experience and communication skills will help the younger strikers like Anthony Jackson-Hamel and the FC Montreal players (USL club) that are called up on a regular basis to practice with the first team.
tBG) The last time the two clubs met was the 2-2 draw in late June at PPL Park. Drogba aside, what's changed with Montreal?
MRS) Defensively, the team has gotten better as Laurent Ciman has taken over as the general of the squad and as one of the best MLS defenders. But quite a few changes happened a bit before Drogba's arrival as Bakary Soumare was traded to FC Dallas and Jack McInerney took his talent to Ohio and the Columbus Crew.
Overall, the team has continued to be strong at home by winning most of their games and will look to take care of business.
tBG) Can you give my readers a sense of the fan base there in Montreal?
MRS) As per the supporters' group culture, I am not as familiar as I want to be for one reason: the supporters group seems very fragmented to me. The noisiest and biggest group would be the Ultras Montreal group that really instill a real tradition (since the A-League days and beyond) of cheering for the club and being an integral part of the club.
But a few other supporters group, like Section 127, Front Commun Montreal, are part of the Impact's landscape and starting to establish themselves slowly and gradually.
The ambiance at Stade Saputo is a nice one but not necessarily consistent when it comes to making noise, chants and such. Basically, if the Ultras are not leading the way, some games, it just seems that no one else is really picking up the slack.
Predicted lineup: Evan Bush; Ambroise Oyongo, Laurent Ciman, Wandrille Lefevre, Donny Toia; Marco Donadel, Callum Mallace; Andres Romero, Johan Venegas, Justin Mapp; Dominic Oduro
Predicted score: 2-1 Impact