The countdown is almost complete. One more game, seven more days, and then … we’re off!
The new MLS season is just around the corner, and despite preferring to play top-class foreign opposition in their final pre-season game, Impact coach, Remi Garde is happy at least that his team will face a formidable opponent in DC United.
The men from the capital have had mixed fortunes at the Suncoast Invitational so far. They defeated hosts, Tampa Bay 1-0, then succumbed 1-2 to Philadelphia Union, Rooney scoring the consolation, off a through ball from Luciano Acosta.
That’s a combo that provided rich pickings for DCU in the latter half of 2018, and the duo are expected to carry on where they left off a few months ago.
Montreal will ignore this threat at their peril. It doesn’t really matter what the outcome is tonight of course, but the opportunity to go up against this pairing in pre-season may help Remi Garde understand how much deeper his theories are sinking in, and how well his new defensive set-up will cope with quality danger-men.
DC United transformed by Rooney’s arrival are again a hugely significant rival in the East. Last season the clubs met twice. Montreal should have won at home as Rooney’s first-ever Montreal appearance, coincided with Matteo Mancosu’s last-ever Impact goal. The Italian striker put Montreal ahead with only 5 mins on the clock, Yamil Asad levelling things on 70. There was no more scoring.
The second meeting probably proved more significant as a resurgent and rampant DC United tore the Impact to shreds, inflicting upon the Montreal men a record 0-5 MLS defeat.
Both sides at the time were chasing the last play-off spot in the East. A tight game was expected, although what ensued was anything but, Rooney and Acosta tallying three goals between them. Paul Arriola claimed the other two.
DCU fans will be interested to see former Burnley, Wigan and Republic of Ireland U21 international, Chris McCann, a recent arrival from Atlanta United get game time. Lucas Rodriguez another new signing, on a 1-year loan deal from Estudiantes La Plata in Argentina, is creating interest too, and the 21-year-old is expected to play at least part of the match.
For the Impact, Montreal fans will be hoping to see Nacho Piatti return to action. It should be a near full-strength team that starts tonight’s game, so expect Sagna, Piette and Urruti, all of whom were rested in the midweek game against Tampa Bay, to be on the field when things kick-off at 7pm. New arrival from Bologna, Orji Okwonkwo, has joined up with the squad and it would be a surprise should he not also feature at some stage this evening.
It could be an interesting encounter this evening despite the friendly feel. Both clubs are approaching the new season with more optimism and a better look about them than for several years.
Remi Garde may not have received his wish for stiff foreign opposition, as pre-season transforms ever closer to the serious stuff, but his group will know they’ve been in a match this evening. Wayne Rooney does not “play friendlies”, wants to win every game, and will ensure his team-mates are focussed and in shape for the for the challenge.
Follow the action this evening from 7pm on the club’s official website; impactmontreal.com