Montreal Impact has a chance to significantly boost its play-off chances over the next four days, with two games at Red Bull Arena, against New England Revolution tomorrow evening and a first-ever meeting with Inter Miami.
Each are winnable games and six points at this stage could provide Henry’s men with the extra confidence needed to ensure post-season football. Then again lack of consistency has blighted the Impact stretching back beyond this year, to the extent that if the Impact do pull off a six-point charge, it will represent their first back-to-back MLS victories in well over a year.
Much will depend on the conditioning of each team. Both coaches agree the current schedule is too demanding to be reasonable, but at least the Revs have been able to play some games at home, unlike the Impact.
Lassi Lappalainen has joined Saphir Taider, Orji Okwonkwo, Emanuel Maciel and Maxi Urruti on the Impact’s injury-list and captain Jukka Raitala is away on international duty with Finland.
For the Revs, the Carles Gil injury remains long-term, while neither Luis Caicedo, nor Cristian Penilla will make the roster tomorrow evening. Gustavo Bou, who has been involved in three goals in as many matches against the Impact this season, may however be passed fit. “He’s a possibility. We want to see how he came out of training today and then we’ll make a decision,” said Bruce Arena.
Should the Argentinian be included, he’s the obvious source of danger to an Impact side which will be trying to tie-up the regular season series between the teams. Montreal won the first meeting at the Big O, and lost the next two at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida and at Gillette Stadium three weeks ago.
Thierry Henry described his team at this afternoon’s press conference as a “weary, emotionally-spent team.” Whether he actually means that or it’s an attempt to engage in mind-games, don’t be surprised if his team is primed and ready to go against the Revs tomorrow evening.
The Impact may not have won each of their last pair of fixtures, but character and improvement shone through across the collective 180 minutes. The 3 points gleaned from Columbus was also significant. They may be tired and that’s understandable, but the group will also take heart from how they’ve gone away from home and matched two of the best sides in the East.
They also seem to be buying into Henry’s ideas and progress is evident.
A fit-again Romell Quioto should also lift the mood. The Impact is a much more potent side with the Honduran present and that cutting edge will be required against a Revs team that’s been stingy in defence this season.
Bruce Arena makes no bones about it that any mild success his side has enjoyed this season is due to how they’ve defended as a unit, because, “... we’ve been limited in terms of scoring goals.”
New England have won four from their last five away from home, although three of these successes have come against struggling opponents; DC United (twice) and Chicago Fire. They’ve just come off their most impressive away win of the season last weekend at NYCFC when the returning Lee Nguyen sealed the points with an 80th min penalty.
The Revs found life more difficult on the road at Montreal back in February, and Philadelphia (twice) each time losing by the odd goal.
Thierry Henry looks set to persevere with an unchanged back five, although he may be weighing up the possibility of introducing Shamit Shome for Corrales on the left, such has been the Cuban’s poor form.
The coach had encouraging words for Amar Sejdic at today’s press conference so the American should retain his spot in midfield alongside Piette and Wanyama, while up front the smart money is on Quioto replacing Toye and playing alongside Bojan who wasn’t as effective against Philly as we’ve seen in recent games.
Projected Line-Ups -
IMFC - Diop - Brault-Guillard, Camacho, Binks, Fanni, Corrales - Wanyama, Piette, Sejdic - Bojan, Quioto
NERevs - Turner - Bye, Farrell, Kessler, Buttner - Caldwell, McNamara - Fagundez, Nguyen, Buchanan - Bunbury
- Referee: Joseph Dickerson
- Asst Refs: Claudiu Badea, Ian McKay
- 4th Official: Sergii Demianchuk
- VAR: Chris Penso