In our usual fashion we caught up with experts of the opposing side. Today we ask three questions of Mount Royal Soccer. The Montreal Impact and Philadelphia Union are an unlikely pairing to be playing for top of the Eastern table today in match that
Brotherly Game: Montreal was a club that looked directionless not too long ago. How did they get to be the top team in the East this season?
Mount Royal Soccer: I think the combination of appointing Mauro Biello, in tandem with, the arrival of Didier Drogba was a turning point for the Impact near the end of last summer. Drogba demands a huge amount of respect from everyone on the team and I think that it is paying off across the board (even when he is not in the lineup). The other important point worth noting is the roster continuity from the end of last season. The Impact have been a team, since joining MLS, that have had a huge turnover rate in terms of both players and coaches. For Montreal to begin the 2016 MLS season with an almost identical starting eleven to what they had at the end of last year has been a bonus. The key now for the Impact is to keep this momentum up.
tBG: Everyone is familiar with Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti. Who is someone that Union fans may not know but should keep an eye on nonetheless?
MRS: Not an easy question to answer. After Drogba and Piatti, Laurent Ciman is a real treat to watch. Although he is probably known by Union supporters after winning MLS Defender of the Year Award last season, he is on a different level in terms of technical ability and leadership on the field. After Ciman there are a couple of other players that have been streaky this season but have the potential to break out at anytime. Dominic Oduro has been playing some of his best soccer this season, Harry Shipp has the skill to be a game-changer, and newcomer Lucas Ontivero is a small but crafty player (if he plays). Although Piatti and Drogba have been solid this season the key is finding consistent performances among these midfielders.
tBG: When I see matches in Montreal, I'm immediately impressed with the passion from the fans. Tell the Philadelphia readers about the fan culture in Montreal.
MRS: Right off the bat the fan culture in Montreal is fun! I think in a city like Montreal there are many different cultures that help contribute to creating a unique atmosphere dating back to before the team was in MLS. On another note, Stade Saputo is a true soccer specific stadium with the crowd feet away from the field. When you are at a game you really have a sense you are close to the action, no matter where you are sitting. With French being the predominate and official language in Quebec you might hear some songs that sound familiar but with French lyrics. There are also a number of different supporters groups which have come and gone. Currently the two biggest are the Ultras Montreal and newcomers 1642 Montreal which sit on opposite ends of the Stadium but help build the atmosphere on game days (with honourable mention to 127 Montreal). If you are ever looking for a good away trip with the Union, I would highly recommend Stade Saputo and Montreal.
Injuries, suspensions, etc.: No Suspensions. Injuries: Andres Romero, Cameron Porter, Donny Toia, Calum Mallace
Lineup prediction: Bush, Tissot, Cabrera, Ciman, Camara, Donadel, Bernier, Piatti, Shipp, Oduro, Drogba