After a so-so season ... marred in the end by the unfortunate Drogba saga ... the Impact still have a shot at redemption. However, the task is huge ... the ask nearly impossible ...win on the road ... in the unfriendly confines of RFK Stadium.
Montreal will win if these three things happen:
- the team defends better on set pieces (and avoids giving free kicks in dangerous spots ...) ... With Drogba (likely) not playing ...(he's pretty good heading the ball away from goal on corners ...), defensive marking has got to be spotless ... concentration has to be total ... commitment absolute ... Laurent Ciman has to really marshal that defensive set up and Evan Bush cannot afford any mistakes.
- better play from out wide ... Camara and Oyongo (provided they both start ...) or whomever starts at the full back position have to be able to bring an offensive threat, send quality balls in the box ... and defend smartly. Possibly coming off the bench, Donny Toia is not the same player since he came back from his injury earlier in the season ... Nacho Piatti cannot pick up the slack on his own even if he excels coming off the wing and cutting inside.
- midfielders (other than Piatti) have to be able to hold up play and control the speed of the game from a more central position ... even though the Impact is a classic counter punching team, they need to have more of the ball and build up play to succeed in the playoffs. That means Bernier in a more forward role Harry Shipp who was brought in to fulfil that role has not lived up to expectations.
- Lack of discipline ... going back to that fateful night against Houston a few years back ... there's always the thought that some players will lose their heads. Although there has been improvement in that regard, Donadel, Bernardello and Camara in particular have to watch that aspect of the game.
- the defense gets overwhelmed by the Lloyd Sam-Patrick Mullins combination ... very good pick ups by DC United this season ... On the other side, the Impact cannot let Marcelo Sarvas boss the midfield for the home team.
- Montreal concedes a goal early ... that would be the kiss of death ... the Impact have limited ability to sustain offensive pressure ... and create havoc among defenders ... they rely on the counter attack which is a strategy that becomes more difficult to apply when the other team leads ...