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Pregame Buzz: Poor Record at RB Arena an Incentive for Success . . .

Impact seeks to pick up first-ever point away to Red Bulls.

New York Red Bulls v Montreal Impact
Piatti’s return boosts Montreal.
Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The last thing a team wants after coming off a 0-4 drubbing, is to visit the venue they’ve given up more Regular Season points at, than any other.

But what if Remi Garde can use six years-worth of torment and adversity at Red Bulls Arena to stoke up his troops for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off?

There’s the challenge. Eight straight defeats is a streak absolutely yelling out to be snapped.

There’s been a few heavy reverses too. Three times the visitors have shipped 4 goals, and on one occasion five. There can be no greater incentive for IMFC to buck the trend.

Red Bulls form at home this year, despite the distraction of much squad rotation with a concentration on Champions League, has been almost perfect. Only in their CCL semi-final on Tuesday night have they failed to win (or score). In five matches to date, three in Champions League they’ve tallied 12 goals. Only Tijuana’s Luis Mendoza has managed to pierce the Red Bulls defense.

Red Bulls are getting a reputation for being the nearly men: five times winners of the Eastern Conference, and twice topping the Supporters Shield, but tellingly yet to record a single MLS Cup or US Open Cup success. Their failure to negotiate Tuesday night’s big semi-final further fuels the trend, although coach Jesse Marsch can see through the bitter disappointment -

“The key for us is to take a day to decompress a little bit. We’ve got to kind of get ourselves into mode for the season and Saturday can’t be a game where we feel sorry for ourselves and come out and play flat.”

“We’ve got to now take this confidence and momentum and take it into the season and make sure that we really launch ourselves in a good way here for the next couple months.”

Chivas v New York RB - CONCACAF Champions League 2018
A familiar face to Impact fans, Jesse Marsch sees Red Bulls’ Champs League run as success not failure.
Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images

Red Bulls are an attack-minded side, especially at home, where they generally deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation, with top-scorer, Bradley Wright-Phillips at the tip. They’ve not yet fielded their strongest side in an MLS match this season, but Saturday presents the first real opportunity to do so. They appear to have a clean bill of health.

Projected Starting XI

(4-2–3-1, right to left)

GK: Luis RoblesMichael Murillo, Aaron Long, Tim Parker, Kemar Lawrence — Mark Rzatkowski, Tyler Adams — Kaku, Sean Davis, Alex Muyl — Bradley Wright-Phillips

For Montreal, it’s also a case of requiring a pick-me-up, after the disappointment of Gillette Stadium.

It would be a surprise should Remi Garde not go 5-3-2, but the personnel to occupy the positions is not so concrete. After last week’s heavy reverse, it’s a perfect opportunity to blood new centre-back Rudy Camacho. Victor Cabrera, not at his best in New England, could be the unlucky man.

Michael Petrasso is still sidelined, so Chris Duvall, against his former club, may come back into the right side of defense. This would release Alejandro Silva into a role further up-field, effectively replacing the suspended Taider as part of a three-man midfield. Piette as always is the anchor of that trio, which is likely to be completed by young Ken Krolicki. Louis Beland-Goyette, also a consideration, may be preferred to Silva, should Garde think a Silva/Piette/Krolicki midfield, a tad too adventurous.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact
Louis Beland-Goyette, in the reckoning for a starting spot on Saturday.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Silva in this this case becomes a consideration for the right-wing-back slot, although I’m certain I’m not the only one who’s keen to see the Uruguayan utilized more offensively. That said, away to NYRB’s may not be the time nor place.

The absence of Taider is not insignificant for Garde’s developing team, as noted by engine-room partner, Sam Piette -

“Saphir is a player that works really hard, both offensively and defensively.”

“He’s the one that touches the ball the most in our team usually. He covers a huge area of the pitch, something we missed during the game against New England.”

MLS: Montreal Impact at New England Revolution
Samuel Piette: “Saphir will be missed. We must find a way.”
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal welcome back Nacho Piatti from injury, sorely missed by the team and strike partner Jeisson Vargas last week. In each of their appearances together up front, these two have combined to conjure a goal. It will be never more welcome should they repeat the feat at RB Arena on Saturday.

Projected Starting XI

(5-3-2, right to left)

GK: Evan Bush — Chris Duvall, Rudy Camacho, Rod Fanni, Jukka Raitala, Daniel Lovitz —, Alejandro Silva, Samuel Piette, Ken Krolicki — Jeisson Vargas, Ignacio Piatti

Prediction – If Montreal are to go to RB Arena and avoid defeat for the first time in a Regular Season fixture, every player will need to be at the top of his game.

It will be interesting to see what reaction if any, Red Bulls experience in respect of their midweek disappointment. Montreal should be fresher and that should help towards the conclusion of the game, but I still expect the Red Bulls to prevail in this one.


Man in the Middle -

Saturday’s ref is Armando Villareal.

The 32 year-old Texan has been refereeing in MLS since 2012, and on the FIFA list since 2015. In that time he’s taken charge of 17 Impact games, Montreal winning 5 and losing 9.

Four Montreal players have seen red in those games:

  • Camara v San Jose (2012)
  • Nesta at Sporting Kansas (2013)
  • Ciman at Toronto (2015)
  • Donadel at LA Galaxy (2017)

Two opposition players have also seen red. That was in Mr Villareal’s very first match involving Montreal Impact, and the one in which Hassoun Camara was dismissed in the 21st minute referred to above. A baptism of fire you might say, as San Jose’s Steven Lenhart left the field with Camara in the 21st min, and later in the game Jason Hernandez was also given his marching orders.

That night, Montreal’s ten-men defeated San Jose’s nine, by 3-1.