The Impact continue their march towards the playoffs on Sunday as they travel to New England to square off against the Revolution. Montreal will be looking for their third straight win and can take advantage of this great opportunity to help kill New England’s fading playoff hopes.
Starting XI: Jesse Marsch will be forced to juggle his lineup for this matchup. With the Troy Perkins era starting, Alessandro Nesta resting a sore knee, Nelson Rivas suspended and the return of Marco Di Vaio, here’s a quick peek at the probable lineup:
Marco Di Vaio
* The Impact currently sit in 6th place, 5 points out of the last playoff spot currently held by Chicago. The Fire have played 3 less games than Montreal.
* The Revolution are in 8th place, 12 points out of the last playoff spot and are level on games played with Chicago.
Please help us! Here are the other MLS teams to cheer for this weekend:
* Sporting KC need to beat DC United
* The Union must extinguish the Fire
3 Questions with the Bent Musket
As usual, we’ve asked our friends at ‘The Bent Musket’ to help us preview this weekend’s matchup by answering a few questions. Here’s some of the latest info on the Revs:
1. Shalrie Joseph was your DP, your captain (since 2009) and obviously, a key player. What happened this season that led to him being traded away?
Shalrie’s trade took everyone by surprise but the reality is, it shouldn’t have. For the last few games, he had been relegated to a bench role behind Clyde Simms and reports began to surface that he would taken out of the midfield and put in a central defensive role.
In any sport, if your top earning player (Shalrie was the Revs top earner at 554k) isn’t showing that he is your best asset, game in and game out, he will be moved. Looking back at his signing as a DP, it now seems like a rushed decision made by the front office that were afraid of the fan backlash in the event that Shalrie would have been traded in the offseason. According to Shalrie, he and manager Jay Heaps had a very rocky relationship which only made the need for a move even more necessary. Shalrie is still a very good MLS player but he should have never been signed to a DP contract. When looking at what the Revolution received in return, the deal seems more like a salary dump than anything else.
2. New England sits in 8th place in the Eastern Conference standings, 12 points away from a playoff spot. Although still possible, it's unlikely that the Revolution will make it to the postseason. Do you still believe? What would need to happen for the team to become a Cinderella story? If you don't believe, what is the team's focus from now until the end of the season?
If New England wants to make the playoffs, they need to start racking up the wins. Throughout the month of July, they have had a hard time scoring (only 4 goals) and getting points (4 points). Except for the game against Chivas, all of the Revs’ remaining games are against Eastern conference teams and they are all ‘6 point’ games. I think that New England needs to pick up a minimum of 24 points out of their last 12 games to have a chance at squeaking into the playoffs.
In order to pick up those points, Benny Feilhaber needs to seriously step up his game. He only has 1 goal and 1 assist this season which is not nearly what is expected of him. He needs to be a leader. With his creativity, he should be the focal point of this offense. Also, Saer Sene needs to keep scoring, Jerry Bengtson’s form from the Olympics needs to continue and Dimitry Imbongo needs to fill up the net a little more. The work isn’t done there. The Revs’ defense need to tighten up and they must get better on set pieces, on both sides of the ball.
Do I still believe that they can make the playoffs? Yes.
Would the season be considered a failure if the team didn’t make the playoffs? No.
The Revs are not a sure thing but they are not a lost cause either.
3. It has been a month since the Revolution last won a game. In that time, you lost to the Impact 2-1. This time around, Montreal will also feature Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari, Andrew Wenger as well as Troy Perkins or Evan Bush. What must the Revolution do against the Impact to try and set the ship right? What are the key game points?
Simply put: The Impact cannot score first. New England has not done well when playing from behind. They can create chances galore but the problem lies in the finishing. Bengston’s return from international duty should help the Revs fill up the net a little more. It would help to see the Impact struggle a little while transitioning from Donovan Ricketts to Troy Perkins.
Defensively, New England could again be without AJ Soares. This would mean that Darrius Barnes and Stephen McCarthy would be the starting centre backs. This game will come down to how well that pairing performs and if the team has gotten over, more emotionally than tactically, the trade of Shalrie Joseph.
Underrated player to look out for and why?
At this point in the season, most MLS fans know who to look for in New England. The one player who could ultimately make a difference for New England this time around is Dimitry Imbongo. Imbongo was not a member of the Revolution the last time the two teams played and it forced Sene into a target forward role. That is not his game. Imbongo seems to be adept at holding up the play despite missing two golden opportunities against Sporting Kansas City last week. With Imbongo holding play, it will allow Sene and Bengtson to focus more on running off him and putting away chances. New England could prove to be more of handful for Montreal this go round.
Predicted formation and final score:
Reis; Tierney-Barnes-McCarthy-Alston; Simms-Feilhaber-Nguyen-Sene-Guy; Imbongo
The Revs most likely will go with a 4-5-1/4-3-3 hybrid. Barnes will start unless Soares is ready to go, and we could see Bengtson getting a start ahead of Guy if he is rested and ready to go.
This has the feeling of a draw all over it, which would extend New England's winless streak to 6 games.