It's a tweak on the old formula for cross-over this week. This is the first leg of the Canadian Championship, so instead of three questions, I asked Sofiane Benzaza to give me three keys to the match. For your viewing pleasure, here they are.
1) Get back that 2008 Feeling: Arguably, that infamous run in the 2008-2009 Concacaf Champions League, put the Montreal Impact on the North American soccer map of relevance. Always known as a strong organisation, winning the Voyageurs Cup in a dramatic fashion and almost going pass the Santos Laguna Ogre was a big marking event for the club. The 2-0 loss against Toronto FC ,during the first leg of the 2013 Voyageurs Cup, was seen as a shameful loss by fans. The Ultras Montreal supporters group made sure to pass the message to the club during the game against the Chicago Fire.
2) The advantage of a MLS Bye Week: Even if the 2nd leg is in Vancouver, opening at home without having to go all the way to BC is a big advantage for the tired legs of the Montreal Impact. With no MLS games on the weekend, Montreal can afford to go all in and field its best players to go all in for the 1st leg.
The risk of picking up injuries is always present but it could not be more true for the Montreal Impact. With Alessandro Nesta close to being fit, is this a good game to put him back in? Last time, he tried to come back, the Serie A star did not finish the game (vs the Fire) and was lost again.
It's all about opportunity cost and the choices you make. A heavy squad rotation is necessary while still going for the win. The MLS bye week might give the advantage for Montreal against a Whitecaps team that might be already thinking of the weekend game vs the Portland Timbers.
3) The 4-4-2 and how it has helped Marco Di Vaio. Up front, it is not an understatement to say that the Montreal Impact are thin up front. When Daniele Paponi is already missed after having only played less than 2 game, it says a lot about your depth. What seemed to be a closed door for Andrew Wenger became open as the 1st overrall pick in the 2012 MLS draft is getting more significant minutes.
Having another striker playing alongside Marco Di Vaio has helped the veteran and it shows. Focusing more on the last 30 meters of the pitch, Di Vaio has been present where it counts: in front of a goalkeeper with the ball at his feet. Managing his minutes and how he plays is one of the turning points of this early season.