For the second week in a row, the Impact will face a side that’s just on-boarded a new coach. Bruce Arena needs no introduction to MLS followers and although he was named as Sporting Director and Coach in one of the most hectic weeks in Revs’ history, Mike Lapper will continue to take charge of playing matters until the end of the month.
Lapper had his first game in charge last weekend, defeating San Jose Earthquakes 3-1, an encouraging start since the Revs had shipped 18 goals in their previous 4 matches, including three against the Impact at Gillette Stadium.
As well as the revolving door at management level, the Revs faced Chelsea during the week in a friendly, probably a distraction they didn’t need, although players were rotated and their time used sparingly in the 0-3 defeat,
The Impact should be extending a welcome back of their own tomorrow, with the squad return of Nacho Piatti, and for many it will not be a moment too soon, unless you’re a Revs fan that is!
Piatti stole the show when New England came to town just over a year ago, producing a scintillating performance of skill and flair. Revs full-back Andrew Farrell left the fray with twisted blood that day on 70 mins, spared the ignominy of further misery from his tormentor, who produced one of his very best Impact displays.
The whispers around Stade Saputo and Centre Nutrilait this week suggest that Piatti will take a spot in the eighteen, but not start the game, which means it’s likely to be another cagey encounter similar to each home game this season.
If there remains a question-mark over the Revs ability to defend, then that same punctuation symbol can be levelled against Montreal’s ability to pierce the most moderate of defences, without Piatti. Expect to see the Argentine maestro play a part if the points do not look destined to stay home, as the game’s second period wears on.
Elsewhere, Evan Bush will take the Impact appearances record (all competitions) away from Patrice Bernier in the MLS-era. Saturday will represent Bush’s 187th for the Impact since 2012.
Remi Garde may well revert back to a 4-3-3 formation for coming back home to Stade Saputo, which makes Rudy Camacho a likely casualty. Omar Browne is likely to start on the right side of attack, with probably Orji Okwonkwo on the other flank following his goal last weekend in Cincinnati.
Cabrera and Bayiha remain on the injured list and Sagna is suspended, so Brault-Guillard starts at right-back.
For New England, homegrown duo Isaac Angking (knee) and Justin Rennicks (U20 World Cup) are unavailable, while Luis Caicedo, Edgar Castillo, and Michael Mancienne were all given a rest when the Revolution hosted Chelsea FC midweek. Tomorrow will be Revs fifth game in a 15-day stretch.
“I think guys are feeling good physically,” said Teal Bunbury, who played 45 minutes against Chelsea. “I think having a good result against San Jose (last weekend), that always helps guys’ bodies feel better when you can get three points.
“We know Montreal is a good team, a good opponent. They play extremely well at home, so it’s going to be a tough matchup, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Impact v Revs is not one of those MLS match-ups that tend to go with home advantage. The sides are dead-level after 20 MLS meetings 9-9-2, and in ten previous Stade Saputo episodes the Impact are no better than 5-4-1. Only Toronto FC has won as many MLS-regular season games as a visitor to Montreal.
Remi Garde is happy to be back on home turf.
“You never know all the context of change of a manger, but you can see this team won the next game, which means something for us. And we are aware of the situation, but I think we have strength as well.”
“We are very happy to be back at Stade Saputo in front of our fans. We will have to put intensity into the game, try to control it and be more threatening to the opponent than what we have been in the previous game [here].”
The coach’s point around intensity is a valid one. IMFC have been notoriously slow-starters in games this season. A high tempo opening tomorrow will be a source of encouragement to home fans. Their side has not scored in the first half of any of its last ten matches, and has conceded a goal in the first quarter-hou no fewer than 5 times this season.
Projected Line-ups -
IMFC: Bush - Brault-Guillard, Raitala, Diallo, Lovitz - Shome, Piette, Taider - Browne, Urruti, Okwonkwo
NERevs: Turner - Bye, Farrell, Anibaba, castillo - Agudelo, L Caicedo, Gil, Penilla - Fagundez, Bunbury
Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant Referees: Gianni Facchini, Logan Brown
4th Official: Fotis Bazakos
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez