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Montreal Impact vs Philadelphia Union Preview: Three Questions with the Brotherly Game

We had the chance to talk with Eugene Rupinski from the Brotherly Game, the SB Nation blog covering the Philadelphia Union. We talk Rais Mbolhi, coaching changes and expectations for Philly.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

1.) How is the coaching changes going for the Union? Was it the right move?

The coaching change has seen an immediate turnaround with the club, so it was absolutely the right move. Since Jim Curtin took over, the club has lost once in nine matches (MLS and US Open Cup). The results speak for themselves. Now there's talk that the club will look to hire a full-time manager during the offseason, and while that might still happen, Curtin is making a very solid case for himself. He's an ex-player that many of the guys played against when he was with the Chicago Fire, and I think that gets a lot of respect from the guys. They know that he knows what it's like to battle through an MLS season. That goes a long way, especially when your previous manager didn't have that experience to draw from.

That being said, most fans here are still very wary of promoting the caretaker manager since things went to hell in a hand basket after John Hackworth was promoted after he went on a decent run after Peter Nowak's sacking. Curtin has indicated he would remain with the club no matter what, and that is a very good thing.

2.) Still shocked that the Union went to get Rais MBolhi? How is it affecting the GK hierarchy at Philadelphia?

While I'm still shocked by the acquisition, I'm very pleasantly surprised by it. M'Bolhi is a world class keeper with two World Cups on his résumé. He's a definite upgrade on current incumbent Zac MacMath, and that's not a knock on Zac. M'Bolhi is bigger, stronger, more mature, and more commanding of the area than Zac, so we may see his MLS debut on Saturday.

Now, having three goalkeepers is a bit much, so it's expected that Zac will be loaned out to gain experience. Whether that's to another team in MLS or a team internationally remains to be seen, but I would be amazed if he finishes the season with the Union. That leaves Andre Blake, who will continue his role as backup but will have M'Bolhi as a mentor. This is rather important since the Union don't have a full-time goalkeeping coach. BJ Callaghan, who is the academy goalkeeping coach, has been filling in some Rob Vartughian was fired earlier this season. It's a very curious situation to say the least.

3.) What are the realistic ambitions for the club as per the 2014 season? While it is still close to the 5th spot in the East, does the club believes into building for 2015 or go all in to make the playoffs and win the USOC?

We actually polled out readers on this after the club announced Carlos Valdés was returning, almost half of them expected the Union to win the US Open Cup and make a decent run in the playoffs. Another 29% thought they would win the USOC and be a one-and-done in the playoffs, so confidence (and expectations) are pretty high. I think most of us who follow the Union thought the club underachieved when John Hackworth was manager, and adding Raïs M'Bolhi and Carlos Valdés to that mix means the club will be even stronger still.


Predicted lineup:
M'Bolhi; Gaddis, Edu, White, Williams; Okugo, Maidana, Nogueira, Cruz; Le Toux, Casey


Predicted score:
Montreal has always played the Union tough, but these teams are trending on completely opposite directions. I think this one will be all Philadelphia. 2-0 Union