It’s MLS Decision Day, and once again Montreal Impact’s role is reduced to the level of cameo performer.
They can thwart New York Red Bulls’ unlikely pursuit of a home tie in this season’s dreadful Play-off format, but with DC United likely to take full points at home to FC Cincinnati, even that issue looks to be a foregone conclusion.
Still the Impact has never whitewashed the Red Bulls in regular season play, so after winning in Harrison earlier this year, there’s the chance for a little bit of history this evening, although it won’t mean an awful lot.
The Red Bulls will be keen to keep things ticking over, hope that DC take a fall and perhaps find some game time for now fit-again Brian White, a player who has been missing for a good part of the season.
Montreal has not defeated a side from south of the border since Philadelphia Union came to town in Lassi Lappalainen’s spectacular debut. That was 71 days ago, yet it feels much longer.
Lappalainen, along with fellow Finn, Jukka Raitala have bigger things on their mind currently with two huge Euro Championship qualifiers for their country imminent, the first in only 6 days time against Bosnia Herzegovina in Sarajevo. That may come into the thinking of Wilmer Cabrera for today’s occasion. If each of the Finns start, they may not see out the game. Lovitz (USA) and Piette (Canada) also have international commitments looming, but they have a few more days, and a lot less flying time than the European-based players, to recover.
It’s a strange scenario today for Impact fans given the recent changes at the club and the fact this could be Ignacio Piatti’s last game as an Impact player. The Argentine, unquestionably the greatest player in club history, has recently indicated his desire to stay with Montreal in 2020 despite indicating otherwise as this season commenced.
It’s difficult to know how this one will pan out. Much will concern how new Sporting Director, Olivier Renard analyses the situation. Piatti’s age, salary and recent injury record will go against him. His brilliance since joining the club however may sway things in favour of Piatti extending his Impact career.
Normally if such a club legend was due to depart a huge fanfare would accompany his final appearance and none is planned this evening. That may not guarantee he remains however. Timing is such that honouring Piatti’s wonderful spell at the club is probably secondary right now, to getting things sorted for the future under the new leadership. A leadership which may not even have decided upon the next coach and which hasn’t had long to mull over the huge array of ponderables with 2020 in mind.
If the Impact’s immediate future is expected to be one of great fluidity, it still would be encouraging to see the class of 2019 sign off this evening with a flourish over the Red Bulls.
Line-ups (Projected) -
IMFC - Diop - Sagna, Fanni, Cabrera, Lovitz - Okwonkwo, Piette, Taider, Lappalainen - Bojan, Piatti.
NYRB - Robles - Duncan, Parker, Long, Lawrence - Davis, Kaku, Rzatkowski - Sims, Barlow, Royer
Match Officials -
Referee - Nima Saghafi
Asst Refs - Adam Wienchowski & Jeremy Kieso
4th Official - Marcos DeOlivera
VAR - Chico Grajeda