On Sunday March 4th at 3pm PST the Vancouver Whitecaps face the Montreal Impact at BC Place Stadium.
The Montreal Impact, 3-1-1 in preseason, enter the 2018 MLS Campaign already in deep water as they have three major injuries to contend with. The most devastating injury is to their newest designated player, center back Zakaria Diallo. Diallo is sidelined for an estimated six months with a blown Achilles tendon. For a team already thin at CB due to the injury to Kyle Fisher (season ending surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left tibia) the loss of Diallo for the better part of the season will be a major setback. The Impact also have forward Anthony Jackson-Hamel (9 goals in his rookie campaign last season) on the IR as he tore a hamstring in pre-season. Besides the three injuries the Impact have had a somewhat successful pre-season, their one loss coming as a total blowout when the second team was trotted out against a full power Philadelphia Union team. At the moment the Impact are a squad that will live and die entirely on the strength of their midfield.
Through the preseason the top performers for the impact have been midfielders; Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider. The always dangerous Nacho has lead the way through the pre-season with three goals, Taider has two.
Taider scored the nicest goal in the final match of the pre-season with a rocket of a shot from outside the box against NYCFC. Lets break this down because this is exactly what Remi Garde wants to see from his squad this season. We’ll pick up right after the Impact have won a free kick on the right wing in the NYCFC half. Watch how the Impact midfielders work the ball over to Piatti. Nacho makes a brief run and turns the ball back to the backline players that have come to support the advancing midfield. This movement brings the pressing NYCFC midfield up off the center backs and creates a perfect gap for the next phase of the attack. Victor Cabrera fakes a pass to the Impact’s pressing right back, slips into space behind his man and plays the ball up to Raheem Edwards, who one touches the ball into space for Saphir Taider. Taider then has a couple touches and smashes the ball post and in.
IMFC hand the reigns over to a new manager this season, Remi Garde. Garde formerly found the most success as a manager with his home team Olympique Lyonnais. He coached at Lyon in League One for 3 seasons from 2011 to 2014. The team won both the Coupe de France, and the Trophee des Champions in the 2011/12 season. Most recently he was with Aston Villa for most of one season. He was dismissed with seven matches remaining, as the team was on the road to relegation. Garde has had the Impact playing a 4-2-3-1 for the pre-season and I expect this trend to continue for the season opener in Vancouver despite the injuries at CB. He’s instructed the team to be strong at the back, with holding-mid’s firmly in front of the back four. In attack they look to control the ball from the back end, and use the full width of the pitch. Expect an abundance of crossing from the wide players and overlapping runs from the fullbacks as this is where they are most dangerous as a team.
Keeper: Evan Bush Defense: Jukka Raitala, Victor Cabrera, Marco Donadel, Michael Petrasso Midfielders: Samuel Piette, Ken Krolicki, Saphir Taider, Ignacio Piatti, Raheem Edwards Forward: Matteo Mancosu
All time record vs Caps (MLS seasons only): 2W, 4D, 5L