Montreal Impact and New York are becoming quite familiar with each other these days.
And although the venue changes for this evening, Impact fans will be hoping familiarity breeds confidence and comfort despite playing within the confines of a baseball landmark.
It’s one of my least favourite venues for watching soccer on TV. One for the bucket-list, I must get down there one day to see for real if it’s as dreadful as I imagine.
Montreal comes into this evening’s contest on slightly the better form having won twice in their last four, while hosts NYCFC are attempting to snap a three game winless streak.
Both clubs need the points and there's enough form around this one to suggest Montreal can come away from the Bronx without defeat. Perhaps it can even be more positive than that, although victories over the light blue half of New York have traditionally been few and far between. It’s happened once in ten meetings, but it was at tonight’s venue, where Impact’s record is actually not so bad; Won 1, lost 2, drawn 3.
Bojan’s current form is encouraging and how he performs is likely to be key, but Impact has another potential match winner of course in Romell Quioto. The Honduran has been a bright light this season apart from one notable exception.
Quioto is upbeat about the run-in and says the squad are now in a better place overall. “It was good for everyone to have a few days off. Now the team is doing well physically and mentally. “
The Impact who seem to have put their red card woes behind them, welcome back Luis Binks from suspension and should be stronger on the bench with perhaps the inclusions of Okwonkwo, Maciel and Saba. The environment around the camp has a different feel to it than a few weeks ago. Wonderful what a couple of wins can do.
Getting back home to Montreal has been a positive too, more mentally than anything else; the opportunity of time on the training pitch was denied due to Covid bubble restrictions.
It helps Montreal’s cause this evening that Alex Mitrita departed The Bronx recently for pastures new, but it looks like healthy again Maxi Moralez, 28 mins played in the midweek defeat at Columbus Crew after missing seven games, will resume.
Taty Castellanos, a scorer against Columbus said, “Going forward we have to be 100% focused for the next games so we won’t have the same result as today [vColumbus]. Maxi is a great player and he and I get along very well. Off the field we’re really good friends and we have a good connection on the field.
“He looks for me and he’s able to pass me the ball at good moments and his injury hurt us a bit. He’s a great player both physically and mentally and it’s positive when he’s playing with us.”
For Montreal, Thierry Henry is pleased with the form of Bojan, his Catalan play-maker, and feels he makes the difference for his team.
Bojan’s greater fitness has regenerated a player who might also be benefitting from operating in the same area of attack formerly occupied by Saphir Taider. His potency, decision-making and confidence are at higher levels now than at any other time during his Impact career, and that can only be a good thing for Montreal.
“When he plays like he’s doing right now, we’re a different team,” retorts Henry.
“A lot of people were wondering about Bojan and I think he’s answered them.“
It’s certainly a big week for Henry’s men. After tonight they take on Nashville at Red Bull Arena, another side who sit above them in the standings. Two victories, although that seems unlikely, will ensure a play-off place, a win and a draw would set them up nicely for the remaining two games and might just be enough too.
Projected Line-ups -
NYCFC - Johnson - Tinnerholm, Ibeagha, Callens, Matarrita - Parks, Ring - Moralez - Tajouri-Shradi, Mackay-Stevens, Medina
IMFC - Pantemis - Brault-Guillard, Waterman, Binks, Corrales - Wanyama, Sejdic, Piette, Bojan - Quioto, Urruti
Match Officials -
Referee: Ramy Touchan
Asst Refs: Eric Weisbrod, Adam Garner
4th Official: Adam Kilpatrick
VAR: Guido Gonzales Jr.