Brotherly Game) Since the last time the Philadelphia Union and Montreal Impact met, it seems like the Impact have been the definition of the word "average". They've won two, lost two, and drawn four and sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Is this an average team?
John Richan, Mount Royal Soccer) I am biased here but I believe the Impact are a better team then they are showing over the last couple of months. Montreal have had a difficult time finding consistency with a number of key injuries, combined with Laurent Ciman being away at Euro 2016 and Johan Vengas taking part in the Copa America with Costa Rica. Although Marco Donadel had been the brunt of a lot of jokes last season due to his yellow card accumulation, he certainly brings some character and skill when he is in the starting XI. Donny Toia has almost missed the majority of the season due to injury - which has been a big blow. The key for the Impact going forward will be to get healthy and solve the puzzle which is currently the midfield. If they cannot overcome these two obstacles they will struggle in the second half of the season.
tBG) Laurent Ciman has been one of Montreal's best players since coming from his native Belgium. He's been sidelined with a sprained ankle however and may miss the match against the Union. What does Ciman bring to the Impact, what does the defense do with him out of the lineup, and do you think he will play?
MRS) By the sound of things, Ciman has been up and down all week. I personally believe Ciman will miss tomorrow. When Laurent is on the field the Impact are a much more organized and discipline team at the back (before we even begin to speak about his skill). His absence has allowed for some other players to rotate into the defence, but sadly (from an Impact point of view) it is just not the same. When Ciman is on the field he brings both the intangibles, such as leadership, but also a great ability to break up attacking movements from the opposition. He is certainly be missed this weekend if he does not factor into the starting lineup.
tBG) Last time we talked, you mentioned that there were some streaky players on the Impact. Who's hot right now, and who's cold?
MRS) The Impact are still struggling with the streaky players. Harry Shipp has found his way on to the score-sheet recently on a number of occasions. Although his performances have not been outstanding he is finding the back of the net. Although suspended for the last match, Nacho Piatti has been on fire recently as well. Many supporters can be critical of him for not passing as much as he could, but when he is in the final third he is always a danger. On the flip side, goalkeeper Evan Bush is going through one of his most difficult periods with the club over the last couple of seasons and head coach Mauro Biello is still shuffling the deck in the centre of midfield - with Calum Mallace having a rough outing last weekend.
Injuries, suspensions, etc.: Laurent Ciman - sprained ankle, Wandrille Lefevre - groin injury, Andres Romero - torn ACL, Marco Donadel - right ankle (Questionable).
Projected lineup: Evan Bush, Ambroise Oyongo, Victor Cabrera, Hassoun Camara, Donny Toia, Marco Donadel, Patrice Bernier, Ignacio Piatti, Harrison Shipp, Lucas Ontivero, Didier Drogba