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Looking for spark vs Sporting KC: Montreal Impact bracing for battle at Stade Saputo

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Since their 1st meeting (May 5th 2012) at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, both teams have seen their luck change a few times throughout the season. Inconsistent results for Sporting KC saw its lead in the Eastern Conference vanish and now find themselves in 3rd position, proving that the East is not weak, au contraire. This better-than-expected Eastern Conference (compared to the constant praises for the Western Conf.) has taken its toll on the Montreal Impact, a team that has mixed good and bad performances, making it hard to get a beat on the team. At least, we know 2 things:

  • The Impact is able to produce offense and be very pro-active in that sector, since the 4-2-3-1, liberating Felipe Martins.
  • The Impact is not very deep as soon as starters get injured and this might be even more true when you lose Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas at the back and Andrew Wenger up front, as the rookie was very in-sync with the team lately. With Marco Di Vaio getting used to MLS and especially his team, there will be some work to be done to get everyone on the same page.

This time around, Davy Arnaud should face his former team with whom he played 10 years/seasons. As much as it would have very nice to see Seth Sinovic, a good attacking left-back with the team, having the leadership, experience and intensity of Davy Arnaud is an added-value for the 19th MLS franchise.

More after the jump

'' It's gonna be a battle ''

Jesse Marsch couldn't have said it better. The rookie MLS head coach foresees a physical and tactical battle between 2 teams that last sparred on May 5th 2012. At the end of their first encounter, Montreal left with 3 points and a 2-0 victory over a Kansas City team that dominated the game in possession with quite a number of corner kicks and aerial: a stellar performance by Hassoun Camara and Nelson Rivas was noted on that game and a big factor in that away victory.

Sporting Kansas City will be looking for revenge after getting beat at home (first ever home loss in 2012) but most importantly, the visitors will want all 3 points and return the favor to the Impact. In this case, Montreal already lost a game at Stade Saputo so there will not be any pressure to conserve a perfect home record. Still, Stade Saputo started as a fortress for the Impact and the club will want to keep it that way and file the 3-0 loss to Toronto FC as an anomaly. Talking of losses, both Montreal and Kansas City are coming off back-to-back losses with the visitors losing to 4-0 to the Philadelphia Union and 1-0 to the Chicago Fire.

With C.J.Sapong , Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara upfront, the pressure will be felt by the Montreal defense with everyone having to pinch in and give more than a 100% effort all in a team effort. The continuous midfield battle will see Roger Espinoza, Julio Cesar and Graham Zusi face off against Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner. Both trios will see each other, probably not exchange any phone numbers at the end of the game with some animosity at the end. It should be quite exciting, intense and physical while still giving the fans a good show soccer-wise.

The biggest risk is Davy Arnaud and Justin Mapp's capacity of taking defensive roles for 90 minutes when Kamara and Sapong will attack on the sides and in the same time, see Zarek Valentin and Jeb Brovsky try and support the attack. I have my doubts on the offensive support of the outside backs in this game but it is a home game so I do expect a minimum of offense but covering your back will be key for the young outside backs. Bench management will be important and determining match-ups early in the game ( and as a game plan) will be key.

Offensively, a lot of hope is put on Marco Di Vaio clicking with the team or could it be the other way? What to expect from Marco Di Vaio from what you might see on the pitch:

  • Not confront the physical strong central defenders all the time and go for runs behind them and play with them their ''offside trap'' game.
  • Make himself available at all times to get the ball from his teammates quickly, keeping the ball smartly while giving time and space to the midfielders (for e.g) to join him and build an attack.
  • Look for midfielders to go into the box (Felipe and Arnaud, maybe Bernier) to be play that 2nd striker role either next to Di Vaio or to receive a pass from Di Vaio.
At the end, it's all about movement, keeping it simple and passing for the integration of Marco Di Vaio in this game. He is able to play in fast-paced games and it doesn't mean that he needs to run as fast as Usain Bolt but for the team to execute quickly as a unit. Sporting Kansas City is strong in the air and likes to cross the ball in the box a lot and set-piece defending has not been a forte for the Montreal Impact.

Game Information

What: Montreal Impact vs Sporting Kansas City

When: 7pm EST

Where: Stade Saputo

Broadcast: RDS/TSN on tv , CJAD 800 AM on the radio

Injury Report:

Montreal: OUT: DF Matteo Ferrari (R quad strain); DF Nelson Rivas (abdomen); FW Bernardo Corradi (L knee ACL tear); FW Andrew Wenger (L hamstring strain); FW Evan James (L ankle sprain)

Kansas City: OUT: DF Cyprian Hedrick (L fibula fracture); GK Jon Kempin (R ankle fracture); QUESTIONABLE: MF Korede Aiyegbusi (R knee sprain); PROBABLE: FW Bobby Convey (R calf strain); MF Paulo Nagamura (R abductor strain); DF Shawn Singh (L quad strain)

Probable Lineups

Montreal Impact: Ricketts - Valentin, Camara ,Thomas , Brovsky - Arnaud, Bernier, Warner, Mapp, Felipe - Di Vaio

Sporting Kansas City: Nielsen - Sinovic , Besler , Collin, Myers - Espinoza, Julio Cesar, Zusi - Sapong , Bunbury , Kamara

Disciplinary Situation

WARNINGS (suspended next yellow card): MTL: Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Sanna Nyassi ... KC: Aurelien Collin, Jimmy Nielsen

Pre-Game Scrum