Well, that was something. 4-1 against Real Salt Lake, a well earned 3-points and a trouncing of Kyle Beckerman was just what the doctor ordered for the Impact's confidence. Now, we go head-to-head against the top team in the Western Conference, F.C. Dallas. Will the momentum of the Impact's latest MLS victory, and advancement in Amway Canadian Championship continue?
Where can I watch?
In person. If you're reading this, just go buy a ticket here. I've been to Stade Saputo for night games, and they are simply amazing. I've seen NASL and MLS games galore, and Montréal is the only city outside Seattle and Portland that does 8pm kick-off's well. Tickets start at $25, and for the chance to see Fabian Castillo, Ignacio Piatti and my favourite player, Laurent Ciman, ply their trade, that's a bargain.
If you can't make it, TVA Sports will show the match, and 98,5 will broadcast the match on the radio in French.
What's on the line?
Momentum. Changing the course of this club's future, and moving on from the absolute hollowness of the past. The next 2-3 games of this season will go a long way toward defining the legacy of the Impact over the last 24 months. Will we be a perpetual bottom dweller, or a mountain climber? That's what this match is about.
F.C. Dallas are scary. Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz are both amazing players, and are worth the price of admission on their own. Tesho Akindele and Kyle Bekker are two Canadians that will also be featured on the Dallas roster.
They are the top team in MLS right now (6-2-3) and will likely continue that trend, unless the Impact put a stop to their crusade. F.C. Dallas are starting a month long road trip, with their first of 5 away games being played in Montréal. They will play high, press the attack through the two designated players, and look to score a road win to set the tone for their road trip.
As I said earlier, Dallas are going to want to attack high to stymie Montréal's rather anemic offence. Frank Klopas can either try to crowd them out in the midfield, or absorb the pressure and counter attack along the wings. With Dominc Oduro injured, and very likely not in the starting line-up this Saturday, the Impact may be forced to play a midfield oriented possession game.
Keeper: Evan Bush
Defenders: Nigel Reo-Coker, Laurent Ciman, Bakary Soumare, Eric Miller
Midfield: Marco Donadel, Calum Mallace, Dilly Duka, Ignacio Piatti, Andrés Romero
Forward: Jack McInerney
Keys to Victory:
Firstly, absorb pressure along the defense and defensive midfield. Marco Donadel has been having an impressive run of form lately, and the Italian veteran might finally be coming to terms with the physicality of MLS play. I've always liked Donadel, and sense that he will be useful in anchoring the back line.
Our attack will be limited with Kenny Cooper and Dominc Oduro injured - a lone JackMac will be forced to start the match without a partner. However, Jack has said to media that he wants to be a starter, and now is his time to prove it. His footwork is impressive, despite his size and relative lack of speed, and he can feed off the energy of a goal hungry Andrés Romero and lightning fast (and amazingly accurate) Dilly Duka.
Secondly, hold up the run of play in the midfield. Calum Mallace and Donadel have formed a weird partnership in CCL and MLS play where one will cover while the other draws the play into a wing. It allows time for Ciman or Baky to move into position, and puts pylons in the way of oncoming attackers.
If they can keep that partnership fruitful, the Impact might be able to shut down the speed of Fabian Castillo and the creativity of Mauro Diaz.