Montreal Impact line-up against Atlanta United this evening again with a squad lacking several ‘nailed-on’ starters had they been fit or not on international duty.
Continental championships going on at international level continue to wreak havoc with MLS rosters. Perhaps the answer is for clubs to carry larger squads, but there’s a cost to that, obviously.
When international and club soccer schedules clash in Europe, clubs giving up players to national team demands at first were permitted to postpone their scheduled fixture, but now most major leagues simply do not schedule matches when faced with a week of international football. MLS needs to find a way to follow suit, or have CONCACAF organize the Gold Cup outside the MLS season. Weather would not be a problem in the southern US for instance.
Atlanta has only one player away on national team duty currently, and Montreal may be happy enough to know that it’s Josef Martinez, who had some game time, emerging from the bench in Venezuela’s 0-2 defeat to Argentina in yesterday’s Copa quarter-final.
Atlanta coach Frank de Boer has further headaches, with injury likely to rule out Barco, Villalba, Kratz and Bello.
They will be a little lighter than normal up front due to the absence of Josef Martinez, for whom we may see Romario Williams deputize. MountRoyalSoccer.com however understands the Jamaican former Impact player is working his way through a move to Columbus Crew right now, so Williams will be called upon only if absolutely necessary. That’s if the move has not already concluded.
The more likely spearhead in the absence of Martinez is 20 year-old American Brandon Vazquez, to date only one MLS appearance, but recently scored twice against the Crew in US Open Cup.
Should Barco not make it then potency will be further diluted, and it remains to be seen if unhappy-looking, out of sorts DP, Pity Martinez can rediscover the form that earned him the South American Player of the Year Award in 2018.
Both previous Impact visits to the Mercedes Benz Stadium resulted in defeat. They collapsed in the second-half last season, after Saphir Taider had headed them into an interval lead, conceding four in the second period.
The Atlanta absentees should balance up this evening’s contest, however it still promises to be a challenging night for Montreal, which doesn’t normally do well in games against top opponents away from home.
Atlanta has not conceded a home goal for 456 minutes, since FC Dallas’ Bryan Acosta scored the winner at Mercedes Benz back in April. The Five Stripes have followed up with 5 straight home wins since, and if not quite at the level of 2018, they are now showing much better form than during their early season struggles.
In the unlikely event, Montreal collects all three points, it will give them their first three win streak since July last year, when Orlando (twice), Sporting Kansas and Colorado were all despatched.
Atlanta sit 4 points behind the Impact in the Eastern standings, but with three games less played. Montreal can consider it a major boost, and no small achievement, should that four point gap remain at the end of this evening.
Projected Line-ups -
IMFC - Bush - Cabrera, Diallo, Camacho - Sagna, Krolicki, Shome, Raitala - Okwonkwo, Urruti, Taider.
Atlanta - Guzan - Parkhurst, Robinson, Gonzalez-Pirez, Shea - Remedi, Gressel, Nagbe - P. Martinez, Vazquez, Meram.
Match Officials -
Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Matthew Nelson
4th Official: Rosendo Mendoza
VAR: Tim Ford