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New York state of mind

Match preview: l'Impact de Montréal against New York City FC

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

"Start spreadin' the news, I'm leaving today, I want to be a part of it... New York, New York" - Frank Sinatra

David Villa, and Manchester City FC New York City FC are playing host to our l'Impact de Montréal at famous Yankee Stadium this weekend, in New York, New York! Aside from the fact that NYCFC are in last place and Yankee Stadium is a baseball diamond, this should be a good game!

NYCFC have been on what could charitably be described as a run of bad luck recently, winning only 2 regular season games out of 14 played. They won last weekend against bottom dweller Philadelphia and are in last place with 11 points.

Montréal have won 4 of their last 5 encounters, including wins against Western conference teams like FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake. The Impact are decimated by injuries however, and will bring a vastly reduced line-up to the big apple.

Normally, we'd call this one a lost cause because it's a road game - but the Impact stomped Columbus last week in their own stadium, so this is anyone's game.

Where can I watch?

TVA Sports 2 will broadcast the match in French, and they do a bang-up job. MLS Live will also carry an American feed of the game for those who don't have TVA Sports 2. TSN 690 will broadcast the match over the radio in English. Kick-off is Saturday at 19h.

What's on the line?

Let me put it to you this way. The Impact are 3 points out of 4th place in the East, and only 5 points away from 3rd - with 5 games in hand. A win here would catapult the Impact into a play-off spot, would build momentum and completely re-arrange the rankings in a way that we haven't seen since 2013. This is a big deal.

The Opposition:

NYCFC have an amazing team on paper. Mix Diskerud, David Villa and former Impact defender Jeb Brovsky all make a pretty incredible team. But things on paper and on the pitch are totally different. On the pitch, NYCFC have been mediocre at best, and their defence is less than air tight. Add to this the fact that Mix Diskerud will probably be with the US National team in Europe this weekend, where he played a mid-week friendly against Germany on Wednesday. George John, the number 6 and stalwart of the New York defence is also on the injured list weakening an already hobbled line-up.

Probable starting XI:

The Impact are starting to recover from a dearth of injuries that has left them scrambling for replacements. Ambroise Oyongo is on international duty with Cameroon, and Maxim Tissot may have left for duty with Canada, so our options will also be limited. Even so, we've been having a run of good form, and if we know one thing about Frank Klopas he doesn't deviate when the plan is working.

Keeper: Evan Bush
Defence: Nigel Reo-Coker, Wandrille Lefèvre, Laurent Ciman, Donny Toia
Defensive Midfield: Patrice Bernier, Marco Donadel
Offensive Midfield: Dominc Oduro, Ignacio Piatti, Andrés Romero
Striker: Jack McInerney

Marco Donadel has cleaned his game up since the ‘incident' in Chicago. I think refs in PRO are developing a bias towards him, or he is developing a reputation with them; but he is still the best option we have on set pieces.

Patrice Bernier was excellent in the last couple of matches, and his knowledge is great. Against a team with other tactical players (ahem, David Villa) Bernier's insights will be more than useful.

Wandrille has no fear. He made a half dozen brilliant tackles against MLS heartthrob, Sebestian Giovinco, denying the wiry Italian several chances on goal. He will be equally useful against NYCFC's forwards.

Oduro is a big question marks. Can he play? Is he healthy, finally? He was in training this week (along with Dilly Duka) and both are looking for minutes. However, playing a full 90 might hinder recovery, and both might wind up on the subs bench instead. If he is out, expect Klopas to put Eric Alexander out wide instead.

Keys to victory:

Hit NYCFC along the central channel where the defence and midfield rarely link up, and gaps emerge in the run of play. Piatti is an expert at picking out those gaps and exploiting them, and with JackMac and Romero by his side, he could make short work of much of New York's defence. Use Ciman's ability, and Bernier's knowledge to control the central midfield and prevent David Villa from being David Villa. If we can stick to the plan, it all might just work out.