When the Black-and-Red take on the Montreal Impact tonight, it’ll be the second meeting between these two teams of the season. Their first matchup came at the start of the season and much has changed for both teams. There have been several trades and signings, as both teams went out and acquired (through different channels) top notch forwards to boost their attacks. Montreal is on a three game unbeaten streak, they’ve won two in a row and drew the third match. D.C. United is on a two game winning streak since the debut of Alverado Saborio, they’ve also learned to finish in the final third due to his arrival. This also continues their new streak of playing teams with some type of history for the players, last week it was Real Salt Lake which was Sabo’s old team and former United player Luis Silva who was part of the deal for Sabo. This week, Davy Arnaud was a former Montreal captain so he’ll be playing against his former teams.
The Impact landed both Didier Drogba and Johan Venegass in the transfer period, two huge pieces that can only help their bid to make the postseason and make a run once they get there. Neither of the two big name players have played their first game for the Impact, but don’t count them out of tonight’s match with United. If a team in sixth place, which is the last and final spot should the postseason start today, was taking on the first place team in their conference, wouldn’t this be a good time to get those players some playing time?
Similar to United, the Impact have struggled in the final third. Not getting there, but finishing. If either of those two new players are able to play today, specifically Drogba, it’ll be interesting to see how long it will take for him to make an impact. It shouldn’t take long, he will forever be known as one of the greatest goal scorers to have ever played in the English Premiere League. If he’s on the field, look for him to make an impact simply with his presence, that combination of size and skill requires attention. United’s backline is big in the middle, with the duo of Boswell and Birnbaum, so if he plays it’ll be a fun matchup. If he doesn’t play, they still have players that are capable of stretching a defense, the first coming to mind is that of Dominic Oduro. The speedy player gave D.C. fits way back in their earlier matchup this season. Another thing that the Impact will have going for them, they’re in sixth place. They should be playing with a level of desperation that most top teams don’t always have.
The Impact will have their work cut out for them as well, this isn’t the same United attack from the start of the year either. They are in a very good place right now as it pertains to the final third, they’ve scored nine goals in their last two matches, when they last scored nine goals over a stretch of eight games. The addition of Alverado Saborio has been felt throughout the roster, he opens things up for all of the playmakers on this team and turns it into a numbers game on that end of the field which is always in United’s favor. Montreal will also be dealing with a different Nick DeLeon, he’s in top form right now as is his partner opposite him in Chris Rolfe. DC’s wings are going to be tough to deal with, they are able to sustain possession much better now with Sabo up front and that’s not to mention the impact of the always dangerous Fabian Espindola. There’s something to be said for a team that has had so many injuries, hasn’t played a full 90 minutes to their full potential all season and still have the Supporter’s Shield at the moment.
What must the Black-and-Red do to leave Canada with a victory?
- Good Start. The last two games have started with United trailing after giving up early goals, they’ve had to rally for wins in both of those games. This was a team that was known for it’s stingy defense before the trade for Sabo and now they can’t seem to start a game with good defense being played
- Continue. It’s that simple, the new attack isn’t broken so there’s not much to change. Just continue to take advantage of the space given by the defense and keep making the most of on target shots
- Be the Aggressor. In those games where D.C’s started slow, they weren’t the aggressor. They didn’t seem to settle into the game and play their style of soccer until they were down two goals. If they come out with an aggressor’s mindset versus one of just not letting anything go past them early on, it could go a long ways
- Limit the giveaways. This has been an issue for United all season long, most of the goals scored against this team come from poor clearances or a player in the back having one too many touches. If they can limit those number of plays, those early goals may not be as much of an issue anymore