No team has a worse record at Stade Saputo than Houston Dynamo. Played five, lost the lot, scoring 2 goals (both on their first visit), conceding 15.
Perhaps hard to comprehend under the current climate, but Montreal has scored an average 3 goals per games at home to Las Naranjas. Included are wins of 5-0, 3-0 and 4-2. Dynamo have gone precisely 4.5 matches since Will Bruin last scored for them at Stade Saputo six years ago this month.
But the Orangemen with a salary payroll about half what Montreal’s is, are in decent form at the moment, Wednesday night’s 1-2 reverse at Real Salt Lake excepted. Before that a four-game unbeaten streak included victories over the Galaxy, NYCFC and a road trip success at Chicago.
There should be goals this Saturday. Houston has been blanked only once this season. That was by NE Revs, at home. In every one of their road-trips, both teams have tallied, as Houston has gone (1-2-3).
Wilmer Cabrera (Houston head-coach) after the midweek defeat to RSL -
“We continue creating options, but we receive two goals away. Last game, every game that we play away we receive two goals. It’s still not good enough from our defensive side. As a team, we’re not defending very well and that’s something that we have to continue pushing.”
Montreal will need to watch out for Honduran international striker Alberth Elis, 8 goals and 5 assists in 12 games this season, including 4 goals in his last 3.
But if training preparations are anything to go by, Montreal may have the antidote. Saturday evening could see the beginnings of a settled defence, something up until now that’s been merely a pipedream.
The coaching staff has been working on a back four of Duvall, Fanni, Camacho and Raitala. Should preparations become reality, it will be the first time this configuration has been tried. Signs are that Camacho’s fitness problems are behind him, and there’s relief at last for Jukka Raitala, who may finally get to play his preferred position, defending the left flank.
The rest of the make-up of Montreal’s team is likely to remain on the lines of last week’s selection.
There will be a return of former team-mates in Andrew Wenger, part of the Impact’s original MLS squad back in 2012, and Eric Alexander who’s been a regular fixture in the Dynamo midfield this season. Wenger, unusually for Impact observers, has been used in a multitude of positions for Houston this season, including left-side defense.
Two other Houston stalwarts expected to be on parade Saturday night are former USA international, DaMarcus Beasley and Honduran Oscar Boniek Garcia, both still going strong at 36 and 33 respectively.
Montreal Impact Projected Starting XI
(4-1-4-1, right to left) GK: Evan Bush — Chris Duvall, Rod Fanni, Rudy Camacho, Jukka Raitala — Samuel Piette — Ignacio Piatti, Saphir Taider, Alejandro Silva, Raheem Edwards — Matteo Mancosu
Houston Dynamo Projected Starting XI(4-2-3-1, right to left) GK: Joe Willis — Adam Lundqvist, Kevin Garcia, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley — Eric Alexander, Oscar Boniek Garcia — Alberth Elis, Tomas Martinez, Romell Quioto — Mauro Manotas
Prediction: I’ll stick my neck out, be optimistic, and hope for the best. Houston’s record at Stade Saputo is as poor as poor can be, and they’ve had an extra road game midweek coming into this one. Much feisty goings-on at the training field this week may instill a fiercer sense of determination for the Montreal team.
Only the most optimistic gambler would stake money on the Impact at the moment, but they may win this one and indeed are installed slight favourite with most odds-makers. Not one to stake the house on, but a modest wager on a home win may reap dividends.
Keeping Elis quiet may be the key.
Montreal Impact 2-1 Houston Dynamo