MONTREAL, CANADA - AUGUST 18: Patrice Bernier #8 of the Montreal Impact kicks the ball to score on a penalty kick in the second half of the match against the San Jose Earthquakes at the Saputo Stadium on August 18, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Impact defeated the Earthquakes 3-1. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Dwayne De Rosario and his D.C. United are in Montreal to take on the Impact in a Saturday afternoon at what should be another sold out game at Saputo Stadium. With these teams so close to each other in the standings, it will be another playoff style game and each player will have to fight for every inch of grass. The home team has not made it easy on their manager Jesse Marsch who must continue to play roster shuffle due to health and disciplinary issues. One piece of news that is sure to make Marsch smile and get the fans excited... Alessandro Nesta will play!
The last time these two teams faced off was on June 30th. D.C. United beat the Impact 3-0.
For those of you with a short memory, this was the game following the 3-0 embarrassing home loss to TFC where team owner Joey Saputo unleashed his frustration over Twitter. Jesse Marsch shook up the line up after that TFC loss and had sent out a different looking lineup against DCU.
Will that result be used as extra chalk board material?
Who is the best Canadian midfielder in the MLS?
This game will feature the MLS' two best Canadian midfielders as Dwayne De Rosario will face Patrice Bernier. So far this season, DeRo has had the upper hand with his squad leading the season series with a win and a draw.
This is Bernier's city.
The Impact are on a very hot run of form.
Saputo Stadium is hell on the opposing team.
In this game, Bernier will have the chance to take away some of that spotlight from DeRo. Is he up for the challenge? With 20,000 fans behind him, I wouldn't bet against him.
Jeb Brovsky will play anywhere.
Brovsky started off his career in the MLS as a midfielder. He was converted to a full back upon his arrival to Montreal. He's played on both right and left sides. After Camara's sending off against the San Jose Earthquakes, Marsch asked him to fill in at centre back against the league's best offense. He did not look out of place. Brovsky confirmed to me this week that it was his first ever experience at centre back.
So, the question now becomes... What's next? Emergency keeper? Move up to forward? One thing is certain, having him in the lineup with his strong play has definitely eased Jesse Marsch's mind knowing that he has such a versatile player to lean on.
In 45 MLS games, he has yet to find the back of the net. I wouldn't be surprised if he finds a way to end that goal scoring drought against DCU.
Marco Di Vaio is a free man... AGAIN!
Last week, the Impact's Italian DP received was acquitted from his charges from the betting scandal that has rocked Italian soccer once again. To celebrate, he scored a goal against San Jose in what was probably his best performance in an Impact jersey.
This week, Di Vaio was acquitted AGAIN after prosecutor Palazzi appealed the court's initial decision. He is now a free man. The weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He is now free to concentrate solely on the Impact and the playoff run.
He scored one goal to celebrate his first acquittal. Perhaps he is planning a brace to celebrate his second acquittal? 2 goals and 3 points in front of 20,000 screaming fans sounds like one great way to party!
Goal of the week... who's next?
First it was Felipe, then Sanna Nyassi and now Lamar Neagle. That is 3 consecutive AT&T Goal of the Week awards for the Montreal Impact. Can they make it 4 in a row? Who's turn is it? Di Vaio? Captain Davy? Patrice? Brovsky? Troy Perkins (hey, it can happen)? Make your predictions now!!
Alessandro Nesta will make his return to the starting lineup on Saturday. He should feature alongside Matteo Ferrari who has been fighting a virus all week. Zarek Valentin may also make his return to the lineup after featuring in this week's reserve game. This is a huge boost to the Impact who are going to be without the suspended Nelson Rivas (missing his final game) and Hassoun Camara (missing the first of his 2 game ban). The only other question is concerning the midfield. Are Justin Mapp and Sanna Nyassi ready to return to the lineup? Neither featured in the reserve game. If they are ready, does Lamar Neagle return to the bench or does he get another chance to shine?
Probable starting lineup:
Zarek Valentin - Alessandro Nesta - Matteo Ferrari - Jeb Brovsky
Patrice Bernier - Collen Warner
Davy Arnaud - Felipe - Lamar Neagle
Marco Di Vaio
Standings: It's still a wide open race!!
1. Sporting KC 46 points 25 GP
2. NY Red Bulls 44 points 25 GP
3. Houston 41 points 25 GP
4. Chicago 41 points 25 GP
5. DC United 40 points 24 GP
6. Montreal 36 points 27 GP
7. Columbus 33 points 23 GP
Please help us!! Here are the results we need to cheer for this weekend:
* New England must beat Columbus
* TFC must beat Houston
* Chicago Fire are off until September 2nd.