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Fanni, Mancosu Back As Impact Face Revs

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IMFC seeks to derail Friedel’s Revolution ...

MLS: Montreal Impact at New England Revolution
The Return of Fanni - a welcome sight for Impact fans.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Saturday’s clash with Eastern Conference rivals, New England Revolution, Montreal Impact knows it must start picking up points, or write-off 2018 to transition and rebuilding.

Just being competitive again would be a start, as a depressing run of defeats have left fans of the Bleu/Blanc/Noir disgruntled, despite recognising the gusts of change that have blown through their club.

In none of the last four games has Montreal managed to finish within one goal of their opponent. They’ve lost the last six on the trot at Stade Saputo, and against tomorrow’s north-eastern rival, they’ve lost the last five on the bounce, scoring only three times to the Revs’ 14.

With a run of form like that you’d have expected much doom and gloom to have already descended upon the Impact fan-base, yet you still sense quiet optimism around prospects of recovery. Another defeat tomorrow though, will hi-jack that!

Certainly all those connected with the club, will want to put a horrible April behind them and there’s no better way to do that than by winning three points over Brad Friedel’s much-improved Revolution.

Revs started Montreal’s latest four-game slide, so there’s also a score to settle, from that 0-4 caning in which Montreal toiled short-handed for most of the game.

It’s the only game this season in which the Impact hasn’t scored, perhaps no coincidence either, given that Friedel’s men have been miserly when it comes to conceding goals. Only 8 so far, the second-best defensive record in MLS.

MLS: Sporting KC at New England Revolution
Brad Friedel (right) has transformed NER this season. Teal Bunbury (left) has been bang on form.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal will need to keep a close eye on in-form Teal Bunbury, top-scorer for Revs, with 4 in his last five matches. Bunbury has an able supporting cast, in the form of two stalwarts who seem to have been at Foxborough forever, Diego Fagundez and Juan Agudelo. Frenchman Wilfried Zahibo (4 assists) arrived form Gimnastic Tarragona of the Spanish Segunda Division and provides much presence in midfield.

Cristian Penilla is another creative player displaying good form and is equal with Zahibo in assists.

MLS: New England Revolution at Columbus Crew SC
#70 - Cristian Penilla - goal-maker.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Revs top marksman in games against Montreal Impact is Kelyn Rowe. He’s bagged six career goals against Impact, and it seems when he’s not scoring them, he’s making them, having weighed in with two assists in the game last month in Foxborough. Rowe however, is not expected to start, Saturday.

Montreal optimism is enhanced with the return from injury of Rod Fanni, which will serve to steady a porous back-line. Victor Cabrera is again available post-suspension, but the smart money is on Fanni to be partnered with fellow countryman, Rudy Camacho for the first time, provided Camacho is passed fit. He missed one day’s training for treatment this week.

A fit Matteo Mancosu is again available, and may start up front, where physical presence has been lacking.

MLS: Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew SC
Matteo Mancosu may return to add physical presence to Montreal’s attack.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Whether returning personnel can inspire Montreal towards much needed victory remains to be seen. It’s a traditionally difficult fixture to call, partly because home advantage has never been much of a factor in the series between the clubs.

A tie is long overdue, for Impact has not drawn a game since a Canadian Championship semi-final leg ended 1-1 against Toronto FC last June, amazingly thirty matches ago!!!

Despite chronically poor form, I can see Montreal emerging from this one unbeaten.

Impact Projected Starting XI

(4-4-2, right to left)

GK: Evan BushChris Duvall, Rudy Camacho, Rod Fani, Jukka Raitala — Alejandro Silva, Samuel Piette, Saphir Taider, Ken Krolicki — Matteo Mancosu, Ignacio Piatti

New England Projected Starting XI(4-1-4-1, right to left)

GK: Matt Turner — Andrew Farrell, Jalil Anibaba, Claude Dielna, Gabriel Somi — Wilfried Zahibo — Juan Agudelo, Luis Caicedo, Diego Fagundez, Cristian Penilla — Teal Bunbury

Man in the Middle -

Saturday’s ref is Baldomero Toledo.

The 48 year-old has taken charge of two MLS Cup Finals, 2008 and 2010, and the 2016 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final.

The Californian began refereeing in MLS in 2004 and joined the FIFA list in 2007.

Mr Toledo was the first ref to consult a VAR screen at Stade Saputo, which he did prior to red carding Deian Boldor last year against Chicago Fire (Lost 0-1).

He has dismissed Hassoun Camara twice in the past. Heath Pearce is the only other Impact player to receive marching orders from Mr Toledo.

The only Montreal opponent to be dismissed by Mr Toledo was Jonathan Osorio in the 93rdmin of a 1-1 draw at BMO Field in October 2014.

Of the 11 times he has refereed the Impact, IMFC has prevailed in 5 games and tied twice. Mr Toledo has never refereed a match between Montreal Impact and New England Revolution.