Expansion side Atlanta United FC will face the Montréal Impact for the first time in their history, as Stade Saputo opens its doors for the first time in 2017.
The Impact remain winless throughout their first 5 games of the season, but to be fair to them, 4 of those games have been played on the road. Struggles on set pieces and an obvious lack of depth have played their part in this subpar start to the season.
Atlanta has taken the MLS by storm on-and-off the field. Their fast paced counter-attacking style has proven to be deadly. They average 55k every home game, their state-of-the-art training facility is ready, their new stadium (which cost over $1 billion) will be ready this summer, all 3 DP’s are clicking, and USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan will arrive this summer from Premier League side Middlesbrough.
What to expect this Saturday
This is an interesting tactical matchup. Both clubs rely heavily on their counter-attacking abilities. Whether these will cancel each other out and create an unexpected game, or whether one club will edge out the other in their go-to counter attack style, we shall see.
Keys to the game
Impact have to be more disciplined on defense. To understand why this is a key, look no further than last week when Jermaine Jones ran right down Main Street to tuck away the second of the game for the Galaxy against a lackluster Impact defense. Atlanta will punish any clumsy mistakes on Montréal’s end, so for this to be avoided, Ciman and Cabrera must track the runs of Atlanta’s fluid attack, as well as resisting to commit when the option isn’t there. For the fullbacks, Oyongo and Duvall must be intelligent when it comes to pushing up, if not, Almiron will exploit the space left out on the wings with his world class passing ability.
The Impact are not a confident side at the moment, and although Josef Martinez isn’t available this weekend, Villalba is a great option up top. For them to get the win this weekend, they need to allow for the home team to commit their players up the field, as the home crowd will urge them to. Atlanta’s counter attack is the deadliest in the league, there’s a reason they haven’t lost an away game. Home crowds urge their teams to push up, but that plays right into Atlanta’s hands. More of the same from Atlanta, and they’ll get out of Québec with at least a tie.
Mears, Parkhurst, Pirez, Garza
Larentowitz, Carmona, Gressel
Almiron, Peterson, Villalba.
Duvall, Cabrera, Ciman, Oyongo
Bernardello, Arregui, Bernier
Piatti, Oduro, Mancosu.