The Black-and-Red open their 2015 MLS schedule by hosting the Montreal Impact tomorrow at 3pm at RFK in Washington, DC.
The Impact look to make up for a disappointing season in 2014 in which they went 6-18, surrendering exactly 20 more goals than they scored. That’s an issue that must be addressed if they wish not to repeat last season’s fortune.
Montreal will be missing last year’s leading goal scorer as he’s no longer with the team in Marco Di Vaio. That means Jack McInerney and Andres Romero will have to step it up another notch, both young players did a good job last season in being aggressive and taking shots. Between the two of them in 2014, they took 75 shots, Di Vaio also took 75 shots.
The Impact made a big trade at the start of they year, primarily addressing those possible scoring issues. They acquired Dominic Oduro from Toronto FC in exchange for allocation money. The Ghanian forward has tallied 48 goals in his MLS career, the 29-year-old should definitely help make up for the loss of Di Vaio and will be someone United must keep marked all game.
The Impact won’t have it easy, they come into the home of the top ranked team in the Eastern Conference last season. DC United is already past the two games in CONCAF play, they are focused on the task at hand that is Montreal.
Sean Franklin indicated in his post game comments that this game would be different, both in style of play and how United attacks it. United played a 4-4-2 in the two CONCAF matches, the back line was spread a bit wide in the sense that the two center backs were responsible for covering the entire middle of the field while the right and left backs operated more as wing backs. Often assisting the attack and pushing up the wings.
The Black-and-Red definitely looked like a team in preseason form, but showed flashes of brilliance at times. Jairo Arrieta and Sean Franklin stood out in the two legs against Alajuelense, both creating scoring opportunities for themselves and teammates.
United seemed to relish set pieces, often creating good opportunities in the box by playing the ball through the air. They certainly created enough chances to score more in those games against Alajuelense, but their lack of timing seemed to hurt them a bit.
That timing should return as the season gets going and the team rounds into form. One of the keys to this game will be how United does in the middle of the field, they didn’t control it nearly enough against Alajuelense. Which allowed the opponent to dictate the tempo and create great runs for their forwards, spreading out the United defense which put unnecessary pressure on Bill Hamid in goal.
What must the Black-and-Red do to win? Here are the keys to the game:
- Control the tempo, control the middle of the field
- Get Espindola involved early. Once he ‘joined’ the attack against Alajelense, the United attack was much more potent
- Play through Arrieta up front. The forward did an amazing job fighting for position up top and distributing the ball once he got it. Routinely being a target for his midfielders.
- Tighten up the middle of the defense, the right and left backs had a very good game. The center backs must embrace playing in that much space if that same alignment is used by United.
- Deny Oduro, Montreal acquired the goal scorer for a reason. Keep him off the ball, several Alajuelense forwards got the ball in space and made things happen for their team.
- Take ‘time’ on the ball. Too often United seemed to be in a rush, it seemed liked they were physically a beat behind what they wanted to do mentally.