If ever there was a scenario to make you grit your teeth, increase your resolve and simply refuse to be beaten, this is it!
In nine straight regular-season visits to the New Jersey venue, Montreal Impact has suffered the same number of defeats. It’s a run that’s simply begging to be broken.
Add to that, the poor performance at the weekend, and there’s plenty of reasons why a steely determination should consume the Impact players tomorrow evening.
In their defence they have responded well when adversity has struck this season, giving rise for optimism, however they must tackle the Red Bulls without Bacary Sagna, and a less than fit-looking, Saphir Taider. That’s if Taider makes it. He was significantly under the weather with a heavily bandaged right thigh, Saturday.
Sagna’s absence is less critical, although his experience would have helped, and of course Piatti is off the list for this, and the next game in Cincinnati.
The Piatti situation is turning into a saga, and one wonders just how bad the injury is. His sequence of games missed will stretch to ten, before Impact returns to Montreal. No-one is prepared to come out with a prognosis determining the projected length of cure. The silence is worrying, the news updates week to week, when invariably the message states, “Piatti remains unfit and will not play the next match.”
“It’s more muscular than the knees,” Garde said about Piatti. “But it can be a consequence of the knees.”
“His absence is being cruelly felt. I said it after the [NYCFC] game, a guy like Saphir has a really good technical relationship with Nacho on the field and benefitted from his presence, that usually attracts one or two players on him to free up his teammates.”
Anticipating the line-ups for tomorrow evening is a tad challenging. Both coaches are expected to deploy squad rotation, being the second of three games in eight days for both teams.
Remi Garde has been bold enough to present opportunities to younger squad members under these circumstances, and the trend could be repeated. Impact fans have been eagerly anticipating Omar Browne’s first start, but this hangs in the balance. Garde’s hand, despite not wanting to rush the Panamanian into the side, however may be forced. It really all depends on the health of his squad.
“I understood this throughout my career: . . . Wanting to play new arrivals right away is rarely doing them a favour,” Garde said. “But yes, he is getting closer to a start.”
The Red Bulls have designated-player, Kaku available again after his 3-match suspension for kicking the ball into the crowd near the end of their game in Kansas City, and could give starts to Vincent Bezecourt, Amir Fernandez or Andreas Ivan.
Probably good news for Montreal is that Bradley Wright-Phillips has been on the injured list and is not expected to make the game. BWP has scored 6 times in Impact’s last 6 visits to Red Bull Arena. Brian White (23), a local developed by the club, is likely to be the replacement.
The Red Bulls din not male the most auspicious of starts to 2019. As well as losing both legs in the CCL to Santos Laguna, the won only 1 of their first 7 in MLS play, and that was against a mis-firing San Jose side in the 2nd round of matches.
But they have improved, and against Montreal they seek their third victory in a row. Defeating LA Galaxy, in a topsy-turvy encounter last weekend, where the lead exchanged three times, was their best result of the season. It also brought an end to an unbeaten 7-game stretch for the Galaxy.
Montreal’s task can be put into perspective, considering only Atlanta United possesses a better home win percentage than the Red Bulls since MLS switched to conventional 3 pts for a win in 2004.
Traditionally one of the most difficult venues to take points from, the Impact has managed only to get within one goal of NYRB in three of its nine regular-season visits there.
But, unexpectedly, they did win a big post-season play-off game there in 2016.
Hope springs eternal.
NYRB (4-2-3-1): Robles - Parker, Long, Tarek, Lade - Davis, Rzatkowski - Muyl, Romero, Royer - White
IMFC (4-3-3): Bush - Brault-Guillard, Diallo, Raitala, Lovitz - Azira, Piette, Taider - Browne, Urruti, Okwonkwo.
Officials - Unavailable at time of press.
How will the Impact do at New York Red Bulls?
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They will come back with 3 points
They will score, but tie the game
They will play out a 0-0 tie.
They will score, but will lose the match
They will lose and not score.