Les Bleus made the playoffs in one of the most stressful ways. We had to wait until the second half of the Red Bulls- Fire game ,on Sunday, to see if the Impact would go through on goal differential. The main goal of the season wasn't the Supporters' Shield or to finish conference leader, it was to make the playoffs.
Of course, we all remember that "manita" on August 28th , when Montreal beat Houston 5-0 at Stade Saputo. We also remember the most recent poor display in Houston, when Montreal lost 1-0 on October 4th. Knowing that their away record hasn't been very good, it will be a tough task for les Bleus in Houston on Thursday.
Troy Perkins has had a very good season overall but his recent performances have been subpar over the past month. Perkins hasn't chosen the best time for mediocrity but he's still the league leader in saves with 110. Moreover, it's too far into the season to start new players, IT'S PLAYOFF TIME and Troy Perkins is the starting goalkeeper.
The back four has been a huge disappointment with poor displays (specifically from veterans), injuries and lack of experience on some players. With Alessandro Nesta not available for the game (calf injury), it will be up to Wandrille Lefevre to take over.
The young defender has made numerous mistakes in the last game of the season , probably caused by unsettled nerves. However, the Impact can't afford to make those kinds of mistakes during such an important game.
Hopefully, Jeb Brovsky will be fit for the game as he has been sorely missed in the last 3-4 games. If Maxime Tissot, is fit and being the only left footed defender of the Impact, he should get the start.
Maxime Tissot -------> left back
Jeb Brovsky ----------- > Right back
Hassoun Camara & Matteo Ferrari --------- > Center Backs
In the middle, like i said earlier this week, an injured player shouldn't be playing as he is in no position to help the team. Hopefully fan favorite, Patrice Bernier, will be fit enough. Unfortunately a hip injury takes a long period of time to heal. Due to his physical nature as a player, this may hinder his ability to play effectively.
I would start with a double pivot composed of Bernardello and Warner. Warner hasn't been the type of player you can rely on this year but with Bernardello beside him, I expect a strong defensive partnership with the Argentinean being the box to box midfielder.
As the offensive midfielder, I would play Andrew Wenger due to his physical implication. Wenger would bring forth a better contribution than Felipe Martins , who has been very disappointing lately. He will help on winning aerial battles with his teammates (Bernardello/Warner) in the midfield , as well as help Di Vaio as a second striker.
Of course, Justin Mapp will start on the right because of his ability to be a game changer. He leads the team with 8 assists. On the left wing, the Captain Davy Arnaud should start for 2 reasons
- He has more experience than anyone else in the team with 15 MLS playoff games
- His grit and stamina will help the lefT wing where rookie Maxime Tissot will play.
And of course to lead the attack, there is no else other than ...no need to mention his name.
Jeb Brovsky - Hassoun Camara - Matteo Ferrari - Maxime Tissot
Justin Mapp Davy Arnaud
Marco Di Vaio
I think with Bernardello slightly on the left of the double pivot and Davy Arnaud on the left wing, Maxime Tissot won't be too exposed.
Players such as Felipe and Sanna Nyassi can help as super subs depending on the game's scenario.
Hopefully, my next article won't have to draw up a report of the season. No one likes premature post-mortems.
More from Mount Royal Soccer:
- Houston Dynamo vs Montreal Impact : Who will be the Knockout King [Poll]
- 2013 MLS Playoffs Schedule: Montreal Impact face the Houston Dynamo in knockout game
- 2013 MLS Playoffs Referee Assignments: Mark Geiger to ''ref'' Eastern Conference knock out game
- 2013 MLS Playoffs : Montreal Impact eager to start a new season
- 2013 MLS Playoffs Wildcard Edition [Story Stream] : Montreal Impact face the Houston Dynamo