The Impact (10 games played) are still well within striking range of first place in the Eastern Conference as they trail the NY Red Bulls by 4 points but have played 4 less games. The Union, meanwhile, sit in 5th place with 18 points after 12 games.
It is unknown whether Captain Davy Arnaud will make his return after suffering a concussion a few weeks ago. Felipe should reclaim his starter's role after coming on as a sub against Vancouver due to having suffered from Kidney stones. Meanwhile, Jeb Brovsky aka the Jebi Master aka the Warrior aka the Gladiator aka Superman should be in the lineup, with his brand new mask, despite having broken his nose in 6 different places against Vancouver only 10 days ago. Alessandro Nesta has started to train with the team and could take back his role in central defence.
Coach Marco faces some tough line up questions ahead of this game:
- If Nesta returns, does he give Brovsky a game off to rest? Or perhaps Hassoun Camara? Does Iapichino, who played his best game in an Impact jersey 10 days ago, return to the bench?
- Do Andres Romero or Justin Mapp keep their spot in the starting eleven despite having a few sub par games in a row?
- If Davy Arnaud is ready to return, what will the formation be like and who loses their spot?
- Does Blake Smith finally get a chance to prove his worth with a start?
- Will he keep a 2 striker formation or will Andrew Wenger return to the bench?
Those are a lot of questions. Fans will probably have mixed opinions on each question. We'll have the final answer shortly before kickoff.
To get you ready for the game, we've invited Eugene Rupinski from the Union Dues to give you an inside look on this week's enemy.
Gabriel Farfan was recently traded to Chivas. His brother, Michael, is still on the team. Was there any specific reason for Gabriel's departure? Has Michael said anything regarding his brother's trade?
Gabriel had asked for a trade since he wasn't getting much playing time and also wanted to play more as a midfielder instead of a left-back. Gabe also expressed a desire to return to playing in Mexico - he played in Club América's youth system. As far as I know, Michael hasn't commented publicly on his brother's departure.
Sebastien Le Toux is back with the Union. Last season, he was traded to Vancouver in a deal that angered much of the Philly fan base. Around mid season, he was sent to the Red Bulls. After scoring 14 goals in 2010 and 11 in 2011, he only managed 5 goals in 2012. This year, he has one goal in his account. Are the fans happy to have him back? Any reasons behind the sharp decline in production?
I think most are happy to have him back, although I'm not necessarily in that camp. While Le Toux does lead the league in assists with 4, I question the value of paying the third striker on your depth chart more than the first two. As far as the sharp decline in production goes, I think last year was the product of being on three different teams (Philadelphia, Vancouver, New York) in a calendar year. This year it's because he's behind Jack McInerney and Conor Casey on the depth chart and is being used mostly as a sub.
After 12 games, the Union sit in 5th place in the East. Their goal differential is at -3. They have the 4th worst defense in the MLS. They are on a better PPG pace than last season. Has this team truly improved? Are they a real threat to make the playoffs?
In some respects they are improved. I think Zac MacMath is playing much better than he was last year. I think our forwards are playing much better than last year. But we still have problems. The defense is still trying to figure one another out, and our midfield has been awful. That being said, I think we have the talent on defense that once they're in sync they'll be a good unit. Guys like Sheanon Williams, Ray Gaddis, and Amobi Okugo are only going to benefit by having guys like Jeff Parke and Bakary Soumare playing alongside them. And the midfield has shown flashes of competence. Kleberson seems to finally be match fit (or whatever Manager John Hackworth was saying was keeping him out of the Starting XI for the past month or so), Brian Carroll, Mike Farfan, and Danny Cruz have all seemed to have found a decent playing rhythm. I don't think we're a lock for the playoffs, but it's certainly not out of the question.
SCOUTING REPORT: Who should the Montreal Impact fear the most on game day?
You have to look at MLS leading goalscorer Jack McInerney as being the main threat. Conor Casey is also a force to be reckoned with up top.
Predicted starting XI: MacMath; Gaddis-Okugo-Soumare-Williams; Carroll-Kleberson-Cruz-Farfan; McInerney-Casey
Predicted final score: 1-1 Draw