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Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact

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Two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference face off in a battle for first place this Saturday.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Game: Philadelphia Union vs Montreal Impact

Date: Saturday, May 14

Time: 5 PM ET

Venue: Saputo Stadium

Referees: REF: Drew Fischer, AR1: Corey Parker, AR2: Gianni Facchini, 4TH: Jose Carlos Rivera

Television: The Comcast Network

Streaming: MLS LIVE

What to expect

Impact: The Impact are coming off of a come from behind tie against Columbus, in game when they were down three goals away from home, they showed a lot of perseverance to claw their way back into the match and earn a point. The Impact will be taking away some confidence from their previous match, despite their defense looking very vulnerable. The Montreal back line boasts reigning MLS Defender of the Year Laurent Ciman, but both Ambriose Oyongo and Maxim Tissot looked shaky at fullback last week, allowing Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay to make dangerous runs into the final third far too frequently.

If the fullback position is the Impact's weak spot, then their strength lies in the attacking trident of Ignacio Piatti, Didier Drogba, and Dominic Oduro. Piatti has had an MVP caliber season so far, racking up six goals and two assists through his first 10 games of the season. Up top, Drogba has been his usual self, tallying three goals and three assists after through six games. The most surprising player for Montreal this year has been the mercurial Dominic Oduro. The Ghanian forward has contributed 4 goals and 4 assists, putting his blistering pace to good use. Oduro has been one of the most inconsistent players in MLS for years now, but when he's playing at his best he is one of the most dangerous attackers in the league due to his speed and knack for getting on the end of looping long balls over the defense. If the Piatti-Drogba-Oduro trio is firing on all cylinders it could be a tough night for the Union back line.

Union: After a 2-2 result against a red hot LA Galaxy the Union should feel good about their chances against Montreal. Expect a very similar lineup to the one that was trotted out on Wednesday, with the possibility of Ken Tribbett coming on for Yaro and Ilsinho replacing Sébastien Le Toux.

The Union have a very young back line, featuring two rookies in Josh Yaro and Keegan Rosenberry, as well as 23-year-old Richie Marquez and Fabinho; the elder statesman of the group. Whether or not Jim Curtin will start Yaro or Harrisburg City Islanders product Ken Tribbett is up for debate now that Tribbett is back to full fitness. The likes of Drogba and Piatti will be a challenging test for the young defenders, but they have all improved so far this season and have already shown well against the likes of David Villa, Kaka, and Chris Wondolowski. Having one of the best young goalies in the league in Andre Blake behind them hasn't hurt either.

CJ Sapong has had a great season so far, scoring 4 goals and adding an assist, the key to his success has been his holdup play, which is the linchpin of the Union's offense. The center forward vs. center back battle between Sapong and Ciman should be a duel of Homeric proportions. The result of that matchup could decide the fate of the game.

Prediction: I think that this will be a fairly exciting, fast, end-to-end game, with both teams trying to spread out the field and attack down the wings. After seeing the Union go toe to toe with the Galaxy I think that they can score some goals on Montreal, even at Saputo Stadium. The Union will earn a 2-1 road victory and climb to the top of the Eastern Conference.