Well, what a month! Two wins in a row, our decimated roster is coming back from injury and Jack McInerney has finally found his scoring boots. To top it off, we're going to Chicago for this week's game. Chicago are in a slump, and Montréal have traditionally done well against the Chicago Fire. Last year, when we were last in the league, we drew twice and defeated Chicago once. History, it would seem, is on our side. However, l'Impact de Montréal have yet to win a game on the road since 2013. Will Chicago be the first city to fall to a newly confident Montréal Impact?
Where can I watch?
Saturday at 8pm on TVA Sports in French, and on the radio on 98,5 and TSN 690. MLSLive will also carry an American stream.
What's on the line?
Does anyone remember the first 4 games of 2013? If you don't, it consisted of 4 consecutive wins, including two on the road against Seattle and Portland. It earned us the title of ‘favourite' going into matches across the MLS, and rejuvenated a fan base that had grown tired after a dreary 2012 opening season. That's what is on the line: momentum, confidence, the building of a reputation of victory and a culture of winning. Oh, and 3 points. That would officially move us to 11 points, tied with Chicago (but ahead due to games played).
The Chicago Fire are a decent team. But they are also only 3 points (1 win) ahead of us in the standings. They've also played 5 more games than we have. That should tell you something. This team has a hard time keeping its defence together, and they tend to lose a lot of possession in the midfield. Furthermore, their major goal scorer, Harry Shipp, has not been producing of late. Chicago are going to be looking to put the pieces back together this weekend, and it will be Montréal's job to break them further.
Probable Starting XI:
Keeper: Evan Bush
Defence: Eric Miller, Laurent Ciman, Bakary Soumare, Ambriose Oyongo
Defensive Midfield: Marco Donadel, Calum Mallace
Offensive Midfield: Andrès Romero, Ignacio Piatti, Dilly Duka
Striker: Jack McInerney
JackMac and Piatti are forming a give-and-go partnership that is wonderful to see. Piatti did not trust Oduro's first touch, rightly or wrongly, but seems to trust JackMac much more. JackMac has also been getting involved in the run of play more often, and it is resulting in goals for other players.
Marco Donadel has been a ray of sunshine on set pieces, bending in excellent corner kicks and free kicks in a way that we have lacked since Hernan Bernadello left for Cruz Azul. His constant fouling is a problem, but I still really like his style.
Keys to victory:
Chicago tend to create space between their lines when they run the attack. We need to pick those lines apart and exploit that space. Ignacio Piatti and Calum Mallace have been excellent at this in the previous two games.
Furthermore, the back line of Chicago tend to get caught out of position on quick transitions in the midfield. Romero and Duka will have to be ready to move up with the ball and create opportunities for JackMac (or themselves) if they spy a defender ball watching.